Written by Samuel Adams, and approved by the Massachusetts House of Representatives, this letter was sent to the assemblies of England’s other North American colonies in response to the Townshend Acts. When a copy reached the British government, the Massachusetts leaders to revoke it, which they did not.
Although the Salem, Massachusetts witchcraft trials are the most well-known, courts in New England had dealt with the perceived issue of witchcraft for decades. This case, from Connecticut, describes the case of Elizabeth Knap. At the conclusion the author provides his own assessment of the evidence in the case.
Bacon’s Rebellion, a Virginia uprising led by Nathaniel Bacon in 1676, was an example of the growing class divisions in the colonial Chesapeake as well as the continuing conflict between Native American tribes and the Virginians. This document details the rebels’ demands.
During the late 1600s, there was increasing conflict between the New England colonies and Native American tribes. Much of this conflict resulted from the New Englanders’ enormous appetite for land and increasing Native desperation to not see their way of life extinguished. The most devastating of these conflicts was Metacom’s War (also known as King Philip’s War).
One example of the evidence we have about life during this time were “captivity narratives.” These were accounts of the kidnapping and eventual ransom of (generally) English women by hostile (to the English) Natives. This excerpt, by Mary Rowlandson of Massachusetts who was a captive during Metacom’s War, is one of the most well-known.
Rowlandson organized her account as a series of “removes”–each discussion one location of her long, mobile captivity.
Note: this is a longer-than-usual excerpt, so allow yourself plenty of time to get through it!
The Puritan founders of the Massachusetts Bay colony sought to make their society a “citiy on a hill,” an example of Christian community for their English homeland to emulate. This led to, in some cases, a greater degree of religious persecution than in England; not only against the non-Christian Native Americans but against Christians who dissented from some aspects of the leadership’s Calvinist faith.
Roger Williams (1603-1683) was a proponent of religious freedom and of a separation between civil and religious affairs. He founded the Providence Plantation colony (later Rhode Island) partially as a refuge for those persecuted.
John Smith (1580-1631) was one of the leaders of Jamestown, the first permanent English colony in North America. His background was in soldiering more than managing, but his imposition of strict discipline brought stability to Jamestown in its early years.
This excerpt from Smith’s account of the founding of Jamestown and the Virginia colony describes the “Starving Time” which occurred during the winter of 1609-1610.