The Rebels Of Merry Mount

Thomas Morton liked the lush country, the Indians liked Thomas—and the stern Puritans cared little for either

No early English settler was more delighted with New England than was Thomas Morton, lawyer of Clifford’s Inn, London. He had none of the dour misgivings of William Bradford and the other Mayflower Pilgrims who had landed at Plymouth less than two years before. From the moment he stepped ashore at Massachusetts Bay, in June, 1622, he fell in love with this American earth: its Indians, its wild life and plants, and its beauty. Only Captain John Smith left a more complete record of its resources.

 
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The Parson’s Hearth

A rare survivor of New England’s earliest days testifies to the strength that forged a nation

 

When Joseph Capen moved to Topsfield, Massachusetts, in 1682 to become minister of the Congregational church there, his prospects did not seem bright. Two of the last three preachers had difficulties collecting their salaries, and another went on trial for intemperance. These conflicts degenerated into charges and countercharges of slander and drunkenness.Read more »

Ordeal By Touch

Up until the last century in some parts of the country, a murderer’s guilt could legally be determined by what happened when he or she touched the victim’s corpse

In 1646 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Mary Martin was pregnant and unmarried. Her paramour was a married man, but it was her status as a single woman that determined the nature of her crime. She faced punishment, if her misdeed was discovered, only for fornication; had she been married, her crime would have been adultery, punishable by death. Read more »

Bringing Up Baby

“What a sacred office is that of the parent!” exclaimed an anonymous contributor to The Parent’s Magazine in December, 1840. By 1915, he went on, the population of the United States should reach 156,000,000, and “what an influence when [the parent] may mould the character ofthat distant day and ofthat multitudinous population! … What destiny temporal and eternal awaits it depends upon parents now upon the stage.Read more »

When Christmas Was Banned In Boston

Many a book, a magazine, a play, a movie, has been banned in Boston. But Christmas? Read more »

Many a book, a magazine, a play, a movie, has been banned in Boston. But Christmas?

The Money-maker

How far back in American history can we find the old shell game in operation? Alas, pretty far. It is as old as money, or the shortage thereof. Even the first Puritan settlers of New England were able to let their eyes stray from regarding Zion to study the money problem, which was, Heaven knows, acute in those days. Hard English coin, silver or copper, was simply not to be had for ordinary commerce. Barter was tried in some places, but it was the shell that really came to the fore, in the form of wampum.Read more »

The Charm Of Christmas Past

It is one measure of the changes that occur in a dynamic society that Christmas, which the Puritans regarded as an idolatrous feast not to be celebrated or even tolerated by Godfearing men, became by the nineteenth century the quintessential expression of all that was dear to the pious Victorian generation.

Zion In The Forest

Roger Williams liked Indians and almost everyone else, and he founded a colony that gave our freedom a broader horizon

There is a legend about Roger Williams that is exceedingly popular among Americans. There is also a truth which is slowly emerging from the welter of fancies. The truth is less simple than the legend, for most legends are oversimplifications. But it has some even more dramatic aspects than the beloved myth and it accords better, too, with the mental development of the normal human being. If it dims the halo of this pioneer of American liberty, it gives him a warmth, a nearness to ourselves that we could hardly feel while he stood on the pedestal.

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