Rhode Island Colony - North American Colonies

Taken from The British Empire in the Nineteenth Century (1898) by Edgar Sanderson

« previous page | start of chapter | next page »

Providence, founded as above by Roger Williams, the pioneer in those parts of religious freedom. The soil was fertile, and the place "offered a refuge from the spiritual tyranny of Massachusetts'. The island of Aquiday or Aqueduck, called by the Dutch, from the colour of its soil, "Roode" (Red) Island, was occupied, and hence arose the name of the new settlement. A charter was obtained from England, after the victory of the Parliament in the Civil War, and in 1647 the people met to choose their governor and other officials, and to frame laws granting freedom of faith and worship to all. This was "the first legal declaration of liberty of conscience ever adopted in the Old or New World ".

Returning for a moment to Virginia, we find that, in 1647, the colony contained some 15,000 Englishmen and some hundreds of slaves, with many thousands of cattle and other stock, and an abundant growth of wheat, tobacco, and maize or Indian corn. The James River had anchored in her waters at one time nearly three dozen ships from London, Holland, Bristol, and New England. On the execution of Charles the First, Virginia, now containing, as we have seen, many royalist refugees, acknowledged his son as Charles the Second, "King of England and Virginia", while the colonies of New England adhered to the cause of the new republic established at home.

The list of the New England states is completed in New Hampshire, a feeble settlement founded by a man named John Mason, and called after his native English county. From time to time this territory was united to, and again separated from, Massachusetts, either by the consent of the people or by royal authority. In 1741 the colony became "a royal province", and so remained until the final separation from Great Britain.

In 1652 Virginia was forced, by the arrival of an expedition, to submit to the Commonwealth, with an indemnity for the past, and with the sole right of taxation vested in her own Assembly, a most important arrangement in our view of coming events. The Assembly was also to elect all officials. In the same year Boston erected a mint, and began to coin silver in shillings, sixpences, and threepenny pieces. In 1656 many settlers from New England migrated to Jamaica, newly conquered by Cromwell from Spain. In 1660, on the Restoration, a "Council for the Plantations" was created in London, and the New England … continue reading »

« previous page | start of chapter | next page »

Scotch-Irish in Virginia homepage