Because of the eventual outcome of becoming a great American city, Colonial Boston has been written about from a thousand different angles with a thousand yet to come. This report is not intended to expose any newly discovered fact or thing, but it will provide an insight into the life and times of some of those early Americans but white and red.
The objective is to look at the city of Boston, Massachusetts and its immediate surrounding areas to tell what they were actually like in the late 1600 to early 1700's. The paper will focus mainly on the pre-Bostonians and their interactions with one another. We will also look at things from the perspective of the Native American Indians. Some overview of the geography and current weather will be discussed to put into perspective how the early settler dealt with the harsh New England weather.
The research will begin at the beginning of colonization in Massachusetts Bay and move to Boston. From there we will explore the interactions between the new Americans and the original Americans. Local topography and geography will be covered then because those elements. Sprinkled in there will be some historical weather patterns to show that the climate was important a factor in the creation of a modern city as was the attitudes and beliefs of it inhabitants.
Historians have shown that in 1628, a small group of Puritans that were led by the team of John Winthrop and Thomas Dudley negotiated with King James. As a result, the group was granted a track of land between Massachusetts Bay and the Charles River in America, England's colony. Upon royal approval, the group immediately sent
John Endecott to raise a plantation in Salem, Massachusetts. The main party of 700 soon followed in April of 1630. Prior to the main group's departure, a sermon spoke of the parallels between the Puritans and God's chosen people. Soon after and throughout the 1630s, well over 20,000 men women and children immigrated to Massachusetts.
The Indians called the hilly peninsula Shamut. Englishmen, including the maverick Reverend William Blaxton who settled there in splendid isolation in 1625, knew it as Trimountain because of the ridge of three hills rising across its spine. In 1630 the Massachusetts Bay Company "planters," who had tried briefly to start a town nearby (at a place later known as Charlestown), barged in on Blaxton's solitude at Trimountain and renamed it Boston." (Burns & Formisano, 1984) John Winthrope, the first governor of the Massachusetts Colony, chose
Boston as the capital and the overall seat of the General Court and legislature.
Massachusetts was virtually independent from British rule from the beginning. "
Thomas Dudley and John Winthrop did not always agree about the way the colony should be ruled. Whereas Winthrop was tolerant and liberal, Dudley favored the expulsion of any person he considered to be a heretic. It was Dudley who managed to get
Anne Hutchinson and her followers removed from the colony. A crisis meeting was held in 1635 and these conflicts were resolved. Two years later Winthrop published a new policy on heresy."(Spartacus School Network, 2003)
Boston and Immediate Area
Although many think that John Winthrop discovered Boston, it was actually discovered by Europeans exploring the New England coast around 1614. However, it was true that Winthrop did establish the settlement. Boston turned out to be an excellent port. "The long shoreline provided ample space for wharves and shipyards." (Spartacus School Network, 2003) Puritanism ruled out over other religions although through immigration, minority religious groups began growing in number and followers. The Puritans were staunch advocates for education so they established the Boston Latin School which has been established as the first public school in America.
Boston and the immediate area began to grow and prosper as trade with England brought in new income and immigration brought in fresh ideas. In 1636, Roger Williams founded Providence and Rhode Island. Williams' motivation was his expulsion from Massachusetts for his unaccepted vocal opinions. The new districts gave settlers room to expand and also provided new opportunities for religious freedoms. However, the more important aspects of the new settlements were that they represented new financial opportunities in the sense of trade. In 1636, Harvard University (then Harvard College) was founded. Suddenly Boston and the immediate area were becoming socially accepted by the elite of Europe and wealthier aristocrats felt it was okay for them to set foot in the young nation.
May, 1677. Long Island and Deer Island in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts Colony. Old men, women and children, the remnants of the Christian Indians in Massachusetts Colony, were at last allowed to return to the mainland. This starving, poorly clothed group of Native Americans had suffered through the winter with little food or fuel and inadequate housing. Why were these people sent to those bleak islands just off the coast of their homeland? What had they done to warrant such treatment?" (U of Mass (2003) The tribe was condemned there until they were released in 1677. They tried to reacclimatize themselves but the world they returned to was totally different. The English had defeated the warring tribes, leaving the Native Americans strangers in their own homeland.
The story of these mistreated Indians starts way back in 1646 when the General Court of Massachusetts passed an Act for the Propagation of the Gospel amongst the Indians. In other words, make the Indians white Europeans by teaching them about the lord. Our nation has a long history of teaching Indians and then usurping their land. Even the Pilgrims said that upon arrival in the night they had to fire on what they thought were wolves until the next morning the wolves fired back with very accurate arrows. The white settlers should have used the knowledge and understanding of the land these Natives possessed. Instead they mistreated and by the looks of our modern day Indian reservations, finally solved the Indian problem.
On October 28, 1646, Mr. Eliot preached his first sermon to Native Americans in their own language in the wigwam of Waban who became the first convert of his tribe in Nonantum (near Newton, Massachusetts). Eventually Christian Indian Towns were located in Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, New Plymouth, New Norwich (Connecticut Colony), and the following in Massachusetts Colony known as the Old Praying Indian Towns: Wamesit (Chelmsford), Nashobah (Littleton), Okkokonimesit (Marlborough), Hassannamesit (Grafton), Makunkokoag (Hopkinton), Natick (Natick), and Punkapog or Pakomit (Stoughton)." (U of Mass, 2003) By Culture
The printing press made new pamphlets available to the locals. "First printed in March 1692, Mather's pocket-sized volume on female conduct must have found an eager audience." (KAMENSKY, 1997) That audience certainly did not lack imagination. Nothing signifies better the overall philosophies and culture of the time than the Salem witch trials. The Puritan's interpretation of events speaks volumes for the era. The area community must have been stifling and extremely controlling. The witch trial s was based on guess and innuendo with no shred of evidence. Where were the scientists of the time? Although the assumed witches were said to have been thoroughly questioned, the outcomes of the trial can, in hindsight, provide evidence that no interviews ever occurred and that there was some sort of other motivation behind this event. Land was usually the bone of contention in the time with some other wealth motivator soon to follow. If I were to be able to go back to the Salem trials to understand the culture, I would begin with the old adage, follow the money. "But the Puritan cosmology held a relentless imaginative power, especially demonstrated in narratives wherein Providence was shown to be at work through nature and among human beings." (KAMENSKY, 1997)
The Shawmut Peninsula, where Boston was settled was originally near completely surrounded by water. Later that long shoreline would provide ample space for the shipyards. In 1800 the Boston Naval Shipyard was built and the waterfront was extended, with Black Bay being dammed (1818-21). Around the month of December in 1620 an unknown pilgrim wrote about how the Plymouth Harbor is open to a vast ocean behind them and an entire untamed country stretched out ahead of them. He most have thought what did we get ourselves into?
The landscape is cloaked in deep winter, the weather "sharp and violent." The denuded "woods and thickets" visible from the ship are deserted by all but the "savage barbarians" who, doubtless, are ready to "fill their sides full of arrows." The sense of emptiness is palpable. They know they're not in England anymore. Nathaniel Morton, who will not arrive in Plymouth until these first straggling Pilgrims have suffered through three long years, could only imagine the barrenness of that first vista. There are "no friends to welcome them, no inns to entertain or refresh them, no houses, much less towns, to repair unto to seek for succor." In short, they see: nothing. Nothing but a void entirely too…