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The juftices of the peace, as in other ftates, have cognizance of small causes; and fince the revolution their powers have been enlarged to an uncommon, if not to a dangerous extent.
Hiftory.] This ftate was firft fettled from Maffachusetts. Motives of the fame kind with those which are well known to have occafioned the fettlement of most of the other United States, gave birth to this. The emigrants from England who came to Maffachusetts, though they did not perfectly agree in religious fentiments, had been tolerably united by their common zeal against the ceremonies of the church of England. But as foon as they were removed from ecclefiaftical courts, and poffeffed of a patent allowing liberty of confcience, they fell into difputes and contentions among themselves. And notwithstanding all their fufferings and complaints in England, excited by the principle of uniformity, (fuch is human nature) the majority here were as fond of this principle, as those from whose perfecution they had fled.
The true grounds of religious liberty were not embraced or understood at this time by any fect. While all difclaimed perfecution for the fake of confcience, a regard for the public peace, and for the preservation of the church of Chrift from infection, together with the obftinacy of the heretics, was urged in juftification of that, which, ftripped of all its difguifes, the light of nature and the laws of Chrift in the moft folemn manner condemn.
Mr. Roger Williams, a minister, who came over to Salem in 1630, was charged with holding a variety of errors, and was at length banished from the then colony of Maffachusetts, and afterwards from Plymouth, as a difturber of the peace of the Church and Commonwealth; and, as he says, a bull of excommunication was fent after him.' He had several treaties with Myantonomo and Canonicus, the Narraganfett fachems, in 1634 and 1635, who affured him he should not want for land. And in 1634-5 he and twenty others, his followers, who were voluntary exiles, came to a place called by the Indians Moofhaufick, and by him Providence.
Here they fettled, and though fecured from the Indians by the terror of the English, they for a confiderable time greatly fuffered through fatigue and want.
The unhappy divifions and contentions in Maffachusetts still prevailed; and in the year 1636 Governor Winthrop ftrove to exterminate the opinions which he difapproved. Accordingly a fynod was called at Newtown (now Cambridge) on the 30th of Auguft, when eighty erroneous opinions were prefented, debated, and condemned; and a court holden in October following, at the fame place, banished a few leading perfons of those who were accufed of thefe errors, and cenfured feveral others; not, it seems, for holding thefe opinions, but for feditious conduct. The difputes which occafioned this difturbance, were about the fame points as the five questions debated between the fynod and Mr. Cotton, which are thus defcribed by Dr. Mather: They were about the order of things in our union to our Lord Jefus Chrift; about the influence of our faith in the application of his righteoufnefs; about the ufe of our fanctification in evidencing our juftification; and about the confideration of our Lord Jefus Chrift by men yet under a covenant of works; briefly, they were about the
points whereon depend the grounds of our affurance of bleffedness in a better world*.'
The whole colony of Maffachusetts, at this time, was in a violent ferment. The election of civil officers was carried by a party fpirit, excited by religious diffention. Those who were banished by the court, joined by a number of their friends, went in quest of a new fettlement, and came to Providence, where they were kindly entertained by Mr. R. Williams, who, by the affiftance of Sir Henry Vane, jun. procured for them, from the Indians, Aquidnick, now Rhode-Ifland. Here, in 1638, the people, eighteen in number, formed themfelves into a body politic, and chofe Mr. Coddington, their leader, to be their judge, or chief magiftrate. This fame year the fachems figned the deed, or grant of the ifland; for which Indian gift, it is faid, they paid very dearly, by being obliged to make repeated purchases of the fame lands from feveral claimants.
The other parts of the ftate were purchased of the natives at several fucceffive periods.
In the year 1643, the people being deftitute of a patent, or any legal authority, Mr. Williams went to England as agent, and by the affistance of Sir Henry Vane, jun. obtained of the Earl of Warwick (then governor and admiral of all the plantations) and his council, a free and abfolute charter of civil incorporation, by the name of the incorporation of Providence Plantations in Narragansett Bay. This lafted until the charter granted by Charles II. in 1663, by which the incorporation was ftiled,
The English colony of Rhode-Ifland and Providence Plantations in New-England.' This charter, without any effential alteration, has remained the foundation of their government ever fince.
As the original inhabitants of this state were perfecuted, at least in their own opinion, for the fake of confcience, a moft liberal and free toleration was established by them. So little has the civil authority to do with religion here, that, as has been already hinted, no contract between a minifter and a fociety (unlefs incorporated for that purpofe) is of any force. It is probably for these reafons that fo many different fects have ever been found here; and that the Sabbath and all religious inftitutions have been more neglected in this, than in any other of the New-England states. Mr. Williams is faid to have become a Baptift in a few years after his fettling at Providence, and to have formed a church of that perfuafion; which, in 1653, difagreed about the rite of laying on of hands; fome holding it neceffary to church communion, and others judging it indifferent; upon which the church was divided into two parts. At Newport Mr. John Clark and fome others formed a church, in 1644, on the principles of the Baptifts; which church was afterwards divided like that at Providence.
In 1720, there was a congregational church gathered at Newport, and the Reverend Nathaniel Clap was ordained as paftor. Out of this church another was formed in 1728. The worship of God according to the rites of the church of England was inftituted here in 1706, by the Society for propagating the gospel in foreign parts; and in 1738 there were feven
Mag. B. 7. P. 17.
worfhipping affemblies in this town, and a large fociety of Quakers at Portsmouth at the other end of the island.
In 1730, the colony was filled with inhabitants; and chiefly by the natural increase of the first settlers. The number of fouls in the ftate at this time was 17,935; of which no more than 985 were Indians, and 1648 negroes.
In 1738, there were above one hundred fail of vessels belonging to Newport.
The colony of Rhode-Island, from its local fituation, has ever been lefs expofed to the incurfions of the neighbouring Indians, and from the French from Canada, than their neighbours in Maffachusetts and Connecticut. Many of the colony have, from its firft eftablishment, profefied the principles of the Quakers, which forbad them to fight. For thefe reafons, the colony has been very little concerned in the old wars with the French and Indians. In the expedition against Port-Royal in 1710, and in the abortive attempt against Canada in 1711, they had fome forces. Towards the intended expedition against Canada in 1746, they raised 300 men, and equipped a floop of war with 100 feamen; but in their voyage to Nova-Scotia, they met with misfortunes and returned. Soon after the defign was dropped.
Through the whole of the late unnatural war with Great-Britain, the inhabitants of this ftate have manifested a patriotic fpirit; their troops have behaved gallantly, and they are honoured in having produced the fecond general in the field.
The rage for paper-money in Rhode-Ifland is not peculiar to the fent time. From 1710 to 1750, Dr. Douglafs obferves that the moft beneficial business of the colony was, Banking or negociating a bafe, fraudulent, paper-money currency, which was fo contrived, that amongst themfelves it came out at about two and an half per cent. intereft, and they lent it to the neighbouring colonies at ten per cent. a moft bare faced cheat. The intereft of thefe public iniquitous frauds went, one quarter to the feveral townships to defray their charges; the other three quarters were lodged in the treafury, to defray the government charges of the colony*.
In 1744, there was an emiffion of £.160,000 O. T. in paper bills of credit, under pretence of the Spanish and impending French war. But it was diftributed among the people by way of loan at four per cent. interest for the first ten years, after which the principal was to be paid off by degrees in ten years more without intereft. This foon depreciated.
In 1750, the current bills amounted to £.525,335 O.T. which in its depreciated ftate was then fuppofed, by the wife and honeft, fufficient for all the purposes of the colony; yet it was then meditated to emit £.200,000 O. T. more upon loan. This Dr. Douglafs fuppofes could not have been defigned as a further medium of trade, but a knavish device of fraudulent debtors of the loan of money, to pay off their loans at a very depreciated value +.' He again obferves‡, Their defign is by quantity to depreciate the value of their bills; and lands mortgaged for public bills
Douglafs Sum. V. II. p. 99.
+ Ibid. p. 107.
will be redeemed in these minorated bills, at a very inconfiderable real va lue.' Were this writer living, would he not now fpeak the fame language refpecting the prefent ftate of Rhode-Ifland?
But enough has already been faid* upon the paper-money, injuftice, and political confufion which pervade this unhappy state. I will only obferve, that these measures have deprived the ftate of great numbers of its worthy and most respectable inhabitants; they have had a moft pernicious infiuence upon the morals of the people, by legally depriving the widow and the orphan of their juft dues, and otherwife eftablishing iniquity by law, and have occafioned a ruinous ftagnation of trade. It is hoped the time is not far diftant, when a wife and efficient government will abolish these iniquitous laws, and restore tranquillity to the state.
Boundaries.] BOUND,Duth, by the found, which divides it from
Long-Ifland; weft, by the ftate of New-York.
The divifional line between Connecticut and Massachusetts, as fettled in 1713, was found to be about feventy-two miles in length. The line dividing Connecticut from Rhode-Ifland, was fettled in 1728, and found to be about forty-five miles. The fea coaft, from the mouth of Paukatuk river, which forms a part of the eastern boundary of Connecticut, in a direct fouthwestwardly line to the mouth of Byram river, is reckoned at about ninety miles. The line between Connecticut and New-York runs from latitude 41° to latitude 42° 2′; 72 miles t. Connecticut contains about 4,674 fquare miles; equal to about 2,960,000 acres.
Rivers.] The principal rivers in this ftate are Connecticut, defcribed under New-England, Houfatonik, the Thames, and their branches. One branch of the Houfatonik rifes in Lanesborough, the other in Windfor, both in Berkshire county in Massachusetts. It paffes through
* See Hift. of United States, p. 120, &c.
An Indian name, fignifying Over the Mountain.
a number of pleasant towns, and empties into the found between Stratford and Milford. It is navigable twelve miles to Derby. A bar of fhells, at its mouth, obftructs its navigation for large veffels. In this river, be tween Salisbury and Canaan, is a cataract, where the water of the whole river, which is 150 yards wide, falls about fixty feet perpendicularly, in a perfectly white sheet. A copious mift arifes, in which floating rainbows are feen in various places at the fame time, exhibiting a scene ex ceedingly grand and beautiful.
Naugatuk is a fmall 'river which rifes in Torrington, and empties into the Houfatonik at Derby. Farmington river rifes in Becket, in Maffachusetts, and after a very crooked courfe, part of which is through the fine meadows of Farmington, it empties into Connecticut river in Windfor.
The Thames empties into Long-Ifland found at New-London. It is navigable fourteen miles, to Norwich Landing. Here it lofes its name, and branches into Shetucket, on the eaft, and Norwich or Little river, on the weft. The city of Norwich ftands on the tongue of land between thefe rivers. Little river, about a mile from its mouth, has a remarkable and very romantick cataract. A rock ten or twelve feet in perpendicular height, extends quite across the channel of the river. Över this the whole river pitches, in one entire fheet, upon a bed of rocks below. Here the river is compressed into a very narrow channel between two craggy cliffs, one of which towers to a confiderable height. The channel defcends gradually, is very crooked and covered with pointed rocks. Upon these the water swiftly tumbles, foaming with the most violent agitation, fifteen or twenty rods, into a broad bafon which spreads before it. At the bottom of the perpendicular falls, the rocks are curiously excavated by the conftant pouring of the water. Some of the cavities, which are all of a circular form, are five or fix feet deep. The fmoothness of the water above its defcent-the regularity and beauty of the perpendicular fall-the tremendous roughnefs of the other, and the craggy, towering cliff which impends the whole, prefent to the view of the fpectator a scene indefcribably delightful and majestic. On this river are fome of the fineft mill feats in New-England, and those immediately below the falls, occupied by Lathrop's mills, are perhaps not exceeded by any in the world. Acrofs the mouth of this river is a broad, commodious bridge, in the form of a wharf, built at a great expence.
Shetucket river, the other branch of the Thames, four miles from its mouth, receives Quinnabog, which has its fource in Brimfield, in Maffachufetts; thence paffing through Sturbridge and Dudley in Massachusetts, it croffes into Connecticut, and divides Pomfret from Killingly, Canterbury from Plainfield, and Lifbon from Prefton, and then mingles with the Shetucket. In paffing through this hilly country, it tumbles over many falls, and affords a vaft number of mill feats. The fource of the Shetucket is not far from that of the Quinnabog. It has the name of Willamantik while paffing through Stafford, and between Tolland and Willington, Coventry and Mansfield. Below Windham it takes the name of Shetucket, and empties as above. Thefe rivers are fed by numberless brooks from every part of the adjacent country. At the mouth of Shetucket, is a bridge of timber 124 feet in length, fupported