Wednesday, June 14, 2017

America's Dusty Files - June 14, 1642 - First compulsory education law in America passed by Massachusetts

A Year of Colonial American Frontier History
A Year of Colonial American Frontier History
June 14, 1642 - First compulsory education law in America passed by Massachusetts
The Massachusetts General Court passed the Massachusetts Act of 1642. The goal of the legislation was to ensure that all parents and guardians “make certain that their charges could read and understand the principles of religion and the laws of the Commonwealth.”
Main Provisions of the Law
The law decreed each town to select people to watch their neighbors. Their purpose was to ensure that they were teaching their children to read and write. Parents and guardians were also to instruct the children in the grounds and principals of religion at least once a week. Parents and guardians also took responsibility for teaching their children a trade or husbandry. If the parent or guardian was not performing their duty to the child, the authorities could fine them or remove the child. They could then place it in a situation where it was educated.
Importance to the Colony
The colonists regarded education as utmost importance. For many, it was important to be able to read and understand the bible. The colony's leaders knew that order was easier to maintain it people could read. Then they could understand the laws the Assemblies passed. Education during this period was a family or religious function. Note the law did not require school attendance, it required the parents or guardians to educate the children. Boston citizens had established the first free public school, the Boston Latin School, in 1635. However, attendance was not compulsory.
Massachusetts Act of 1647
Five years later the Massachusetts General Court passed the Massachusetts Act of 1647. This built on the earlier statute. It required each town of more than fifty people to hire a teacher to educate the children. Towns of one hundred or more had to have a Latin instructor who was to prepare children for entry in Harvard College. This Act still left the educational responsibilities in the hands of the family. But, it provided a means for public funds to be provided for aid.

United States history begins many decades before July 4, 1776 when the colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. The first foundations of the nation were laid with the voyages of Christopher Columbus and the settlement that came later. The American History A Day at A Time - 2015 series is in an easy to read "This Day in History," format and includes articles by the author from that series. The reader may read the articles as they appear, or purchase the book:
A Year of Colonial American Frontier History

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© Paul Wonning 2016

Monday, June 12, 2017

America's Dusty Files - June 12, 1616 - Pocahontas and John Rolfe arrive in London

A Year of Colonial American Frontier History
A Year of Colonial American Frontier History
June 12, 1616 - Pocahontas and John Rolfe arrive in London
John Rolfe and Pocahontas resided at John's Varina Farms plantation for two years. After their April 5, 1614 marriage, Pocahontas took the name Lady Rebecca. The peaceful period induced by her marriage to the Englishman became known as the “Peace of Pocahontas." She bore John a son on January 30, 1615, whom they named Thomas. About a year later, John, Pocahontas and Thomas made a trip to England.
Tamed Savage
One of the primary purposes of the Virginia Company had been to convert the natives to Christianity. Thus, the Company decided that Pocahontas made a good example of their efforts. Converted, married and the mother of a Christian son all made good marketing in England. Therefore, in 1616 the Rolf's prepared to take a voyage to England with a group of twelve other Powhatans. They arrived in the port of Plymouth on June 12, 1616. From Plymouth, they took the coach to London where they resided at Rolf's English home in Heacham, Norfolk. They also lived at Brentford, Middlesex during their sojourn in England.
Travel and Meeting the King
The family traveled throughout England, the Virginia Company paying their expenses. The English received her well, though treating her more as a curiosity than a king's daughter as Rolfe had wished. On January 15, 1515, they met King James I at the Banqueting House in the Palace of Whitehall. The meeting took place at a performance of Ben Jonson's masque The Vision of Delight.
Meeting With Captain John Smith
John Smith was in London during Pocahontas' stay and she learned that he was alive, not dead, as the English had told her. After several months, he met with her, a meeting that filled Pocahontas with so much emotion she had to turn away from him. During their meeting, she reprimanded him for the way he had treated her people after her father Powhatan had treated him so well. He had called her father "father," and she wanted to call Smith by that name. Because she was a king's daughter, this form of address discomfited him. She told him at length that the English had told her he was dead. However, one of her tribal companions had told her to look for him in England “because your countrymen will lie much."
Death of Pocahontas
The Rolf's prepared to return to Virginia in March 1617. As they traveled down the river Thames, they dined with Captain Argall. Sometime after the meal, Pocahontas grew ill. They took her ashore at Gravesend where she died from unspecified causes. Because she had been in good health up to the meal, some suspected poison, a suspicion never proved. After the funeral, they buried her at Saint George's on March 21, 1617. Because the church burned, no one knows the exact location, but many feel it is under the chancel.
Rolfe’s Return
John Rolf left Thomas in the care of his brother, Henry Rolfe, and returned to Virginia. He lived there for five years and watched as the "Peace of Pocahontas" unraveled. The Powhatans made a major assault on Jamestown in 1622. During the assault they killed about one-quarter of the population, Rolf included. Thomas Rolf returned to Virginia around 1625. Pocahontas' bloodline survives through Thomas in many Virginia families.

United States history begins many decades before July 4, 1776 when the colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. The first foundations of the nation were laid with the voyages of Christopher Columbus and the settlement that came later. The American History A Day at A Time - 2015 series is in an easy to read "This Day in History," format and includes articles by the author from that series. The reader may read the articles as they appear, or purchase the book:
A Year of Colonial American Frontier History

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© Paul Wonning 2016

Friday, June 9, 2017

America's Dusty Files - June 9, 1628 - First deportation from British North American Colonies

A Year of Colonial American Frontier History
A Year of Colonial American Frontier History
June 9, 1628 - First deportation from British North American Colonies
In reaction to his debaucheries, the Puritans of Plymouth banish Thomas Morton to the Isles of Shoals.  He was to languish there while awaiting a ship to deport him back to England.
Thomas Morton (c. 1579–1647)
Born in Devon, England Morton absorbed the folk tradition culture of his home. This was a culture that the Puritans considered hedonistic and pagan-like. The area also maintained the semi-Catholic High Church Anglicanism that the Puritans abhorred. The Puritans did not revere residents of the Devon area. During his early years, Morton studied law. He became acquainted with some powerful men like Ferdinando Gorges and Sir Walter Raleigh. During the time of his law, studies at Clifford's Inn the libertine lifestyle of certain groups attracted him. He enjoyed the bawdy lifestyle that the Puritans denounced as immoral.
Travel to the Colonies
He considered moving to the colonies and made an exploratory trip in 1622. He returned in 1623, complaining of the Puritan's intolerance. He formed an association with Captain Richard Wollaston. He became a partner in his venture of supplying indentured servants to Massachusetts. He went to Massachusetts in 1624 to a tiny tract of land that the local native tribes gave them to establish a trading post. While there, Morton began his study of native culture, a subject that fascinated him and his studies gave him certain renown.
Mare Mount
The trading post grew into a small village that acquired the name Mount Wollaston. A falling out between Wollaston and Morton occurred. Wollaston departed for Virginia in 1626, leaving Morton in charge of the village. Morton embarked on a Utopian project, in an attempt to create an ideal society. He changed the name to Mare Mount, a name that evolved into Merrymount. His activities drew the wrath of the surrounding Puritans. Rumors of liaisons with native women, debauchery and other merry making of which they did not approve circulated. The final insult came in May 1628 when Morton erected a Maypole. He threw a May Day celebration to which he invited the local natives and some of the surrounding colonists.
Arrest and Deportation
In early June, the colony sent Miles Standish to arrest him. They took him back to Plymouth where they locked him in stocks and then tried him.  Morton had powerful friends and they were afraid to imprison or execute him. Therefore, on June 9, they deported him to the Isle of Shoals while they waited for a ship to send him back to England.
Isles of Shoals
The Isles of Shoals are a small group of islands that straddle Maine and New Hampshire. The English discovered them in 1614 and placed a small settlement on them. They abandoned it by 1623.
Starvation, Then Escape and Vengeance
Devoid of food, Morton starved until benevolent natives began to give him food and supplies. Eventually he managed to escape the island and boarded a ship for England. After his return to England, he filed a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Bay Company. The Company was the Puritans power source. He won the lawsuit and King Charles revoked their charter. He went on to publish the three volumes New English Canaan. This work denounced the Puritan government of Plymouth and expounded the native culture. The publication of this work vaulted him into a temporary celebrity status.
Return to New England
He made an ill-advised return to Massachusetts. The leaders promptly arrested him and tried him for his part in their losing their charter and sedition. Imprisoned in Boston, his health failed and his supporters managed to get him pardoned. He went to Maine where he died in 1647.

United States history begins many decades before July 4, 1776 when the colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. The first foundations of the nation were laid with the voyages of Christopher Columbus and the settlement that came later. The American History A Day at A Time - 2015 series is in an easy to read "This Day in History," format and includes articles by the author from that series. The reader may read the articles as they appear, or purchase the book:
A Year of Colonial American Frontier History

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© Paul Wonning 2016

Thursday, June 8, 2017

America's Dusty Files - June 8, 1610 - American Revolutionary War: Battle of Trois-Rivières

A Year of Colonial American Frontier History
A Year of Colonial American Frontier History
June 8, 1610 - American Revolutionary War: Battle of Trois-Rivières
At the Battle of Trois-Rivières (Three Rivers), a force of Hessian, British soldiers and Canadian militia under General Guy Carleton drove the American invaders from Canada. This was the last major battle fought on Canadian soil and it ended the Invasion of Quebec begun almost a year earlier. American General John Sullivan managed to extricate most of his army from Canada. They accomplished this after suffering major losses.
After the Retreat From Quebec
The American forces under General John Thomas conducted a disorganized retreat from Quebec. The American forces fled southwest towards Montreal, pursued by the British, Hessians and Canadians. At the mid-point between Quebec and Montreal, the Americans decided to stand and fight. They wanted to prevent the British from advancing up the St. Lawrence valley and cutting off their retreat. The area around Three Rivers is a point that three rivers converge. The St. Maurice River enters the St. Lawrence River from the north and the Becancour River enters it from the south. The American retreat had reached Sorel, on the south side of the St. Lawrence River west of Lake St. Peters. British troops on the ground totaled nearly 1000. This did not include the soldiers on the twenty-five ships anchored on the St. Lawrence River.
Council of War and Preparation
The Americans held a war council at Sorel May 21 that included members of the Continental Congress. The council had inadequate information about British troop strength and position. They decided to send a small force across first to surprise what they thought was a small British Force. These troops they would reinforce and try to drive the main British army back.
Setting Up the Forces
General John Thomas, who had been leading the army, died of smallpox on June 2. Brigadier General William Thompson replaced him. He sent Colonel Arthur St. Clair across the river on boats with 600 men on June 5. General John Sullivan arrived in Sorel hours after this unit left. He dispatched another 1600 soldiers under Thompson to across to reinforce St. Clair. These units united at Nicolet on June 6. They erected river defenses and waited for reinforcements. During the night on June 7, another 2000 men crossed the St. Lawrence and landed near Pointe du Lac, just west of Three Rivers on the river. A local Canadian militia captain saw the American's cross the river. He informed the British. Thompson had left a guard force of about 250 men to guard the crossing and proceeded towards Three Rivers. He was unfamiliar with the area and persuaded a local farmer to guide them to Three Rivers. The farmer led them into a swamp, which delayed them. The informed British commander landed troops from the ships at Three Rivers. They formed battle lines. He also sent ships to Pont du Lac. The British engaged the guard force. The guard force fled across the river, taking most of the boats with them to avoid capture by the British. A small British detachment then took control of a bridge across the St. Lawrence.
The Battle
Thompson's group emerged from the swamp. The British met them with a withering fire of grapeshot from the British ship HMS Martin. The hot fire drove them back into the swamp. Anthony Wayne's column emerged a bit further north. As he did, his men engaged units under British Brigadier General Simon Fraser. Wayne was also forced back into the swamps. St. Clair and some of his men managed to make it back to the landing to find the British in control. They escaped, fleeing back into the swamp and heading upriver. Wayne managed to form an attack on the British, which also failed. His men slipped away into the forest and escaped. The Americans managed to make their way to the bridge. They found it clear as Burgoyne had inexplicably ordered Grant to abandon it. About 2500 Americans did escape, but many others did not. The British killed between thirty and fifty Americans and captured another 250.  Many of the men that escaped did not make their way back to their Sorel headquarters until June 11.
Retreat
The Americans continued their retreat to Montreal.

United States history begins many decades before July 4, 1776 when the colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. The first foundations of the nation were laid with the voyages of Christopher Columbus and the settlement that came later. The American History A Day at A Time - 2015 series is in an easy to read "This Day in History," format and includes articles by the author from that series. The reader may read the articles as they appear, or purchase the book:
A Year of Colonial American Frontier History

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© Paul Wonning 2016

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Year of Colonial American History Stories

A Year of Colonial American History Stories
A Year of Colonial American History Stories

Settling America - A Pioneer History of America has one history lesson a day in the settlement of early America. This December edition covers the historical events of December. The stories include both famous historical events as well as many forgotten little known, obscure facts.
This frontier history includes the following stories:
January 10, 1749 - Petition Filed To Repeal of the Ban Against Slaves
February 27, 1717 - The Great Snow of 1717
March 10, 1753- Liberty Bell Hung
April 3, 1735 - Georgia Bans Slavery
May 12, 1777 - First Ice Cream Advertisement
June 26, 1740 - Siege of Fort Mose - War of Jenkins Ear
July 07, 1774 - Paul Revere Adopts Snake Device
August 15, 1756 - Daniel Boone and Rebecca Married
September 11, 1740 - First Mention of a Black Doctor in Colonies
October 20, 1774 - Congress created the Continental Association
November 05, 1492 - Christopher Columbus learns of maize
December 21, 1767 - Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania

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© Mossy Feet Books 2017

America's Dusty Files - June 7, 1628 - Charles I grants Royal Assent to the Petition of Right

A Year of Colonial American Frontier History
A Year of Colonial American Frontier History
June 7, 1628 - Charles I grants Royal Assent to the Petition of Right
In a pinch for money, English King Charles I ratifies the Petition of Right. This document is still in force in England and many historians give it equal standing with the Magna Carta in terms of importance. Approved by both Houses of Parliament, Charles I agree to it so Parliament would provide funds for his Thirty Years War effort. It provided precedent for the 1641 Massachusetts Body of Liberties. Several amendments in the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution also have roots in the Petition.
Charles I (November 19, 1600 – January 30, 1649)
The second son of King James VI of Scotland, Charles traveled to England in 1603 to live. He became the Heir Apparent to the English throne when his older brother, Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, died in 1612. His brother's death also led to his claim to the Irish and Scottish thrones. He ascended the throne on February 2, 1626.
Charles was a fervent believer in the Divine Right of Kings.  He believed he could rule without Parliamentary restraint. This belief led to conflicts with Parliament that eventually led to the English Civil War and his execution in 1649. His signing of the Petition of Right was a chapter in that tumultuous story. It was his behavior during the period the early portion of his reign that led to the Petition of Right.
Thirty Years War (1618 -1648)
The series of European wars began as a religious conflict within the Holy Roman Empire. It soon engulfed most of the major powers of Europe. The conflicts devastated entire regions, inflicting famine and destruction on millions of people. King James VI had involved the English in the War. However, most English saw a war as a conflict between the Catholics and newly emerging Protestants on the Continent. Parliament and the people soon grew tired of paying the taxes to support this war.
Royal Intransigence
When a new king ascended, it was custom for Parliament to grant the new king the right to collect Tonnage and Poundage taxes. These were essentially customs duties that Parliament granted the king for life. When Charles I ascended, they granted this right for only a year. When the year ended, Charles continued to collect the tax. Parliament also bequeathed him only about one-seventh the monies he needed to prosecute the war. Incensed, Charles dissolved Parliament. His need for funds continued to dog him, however, so he recalled Parliament. Once in session the body began investigating the misdeeds of Charlie’s friend, Duke of Buckingham. To stop the possible impeachment, he dissolved Parliament again. He instituted a policy of "Forced Loans." These were, in fact, taxes that Parliament had not authorized. Charles imprisoned anyone that did not pay the "loan." Over seventy men refused to pay and the king incarcerated them. More people refused to pay and public opposition to Charles began to swell. To quell the discontent, Charles declared martial law. This decree suspended civil law and instituted decrees issued by the local commander of the military. Many of these commanders forced the civilian population to provide quarters for military personnel. Financially squeezed, the king recalled Parliament on March 27, 1628.
Debate
Parliamentary debate immediately commenced on the behavior of the king. The House of Commons passed a series of four resolutions. These dealt with illegal taxation and imprisonment. Another stated that people could not be imprisoned without charges (habeas corpus). The House of Commons passed it unanimously. The House of Lords passed it but the King refused it because resolutions had no force outside of Parliament. The House of Commons then decided to pass a petition, instead. They drafted the resolutions as a petition and presented it to the House of Lords on May 8. The Lords passed it after softening the language on May 12. They passed an amended version of the bill. They attached the declaration that they acted "not to lessen or impeach any thing which by the oath of supremacy [we had] sworn to assist and defend."  By this, they assured the king of their loyalty. This passed the Lords on March 26. The House passed this version and sent it to the King on May 27.
The Petition of Right
The Petition of Right states that all Englishmen have "rights and liberties". It stated that the King could not force any person to pay a gift, tax or loan without Parliamentary consent. It also decreed that the king could not detain anyone without formal charges. Another provision charged that the king could force no one to provide quarters for a soldier or sailor. It also limited the use of martial law.
Influence of the Petition of Right
The Third, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Amendments to the Constitution of the United States draw their ancestry from it. One early governing document, the 1641 Massachusetts Body of Liberties also draws many of its tenets from the Petition.
Back to June Table of Contents

United States history begins many decades before July 4, 1776 when the colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. The first foundations of the nation were laid with the voyages of Christopher Columbus and the settlement that came later. The American History A Day at A Time - 2015 series is in an easy to read "This Day in History," format and includes articles by the author from that series. The reader may read the articles as they appear, or purchase the book:
A Year of Colonial American Frontier History

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© Paul Wonning 2016

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

America's Dusty Files - June 6, 1639 - Massachusetts Grants 500 Acres Of Land For A Gunpowder Mill

A Year of Colonial American Frontier History
A Year of Colonial American Frontier History
June 6, 1639 - Massachusetts Grants 500 Acres Of Land For A Gunpowder Mill
Gunpowder is one necessary ingredient of pioneer life. Needed for hunting and protection, the supply of gunpowder was critical to the growing colonies in the New World. At the beginning of the colonial period, the colonies imported most of the gunpowder they needed from England. There were early attempts to manufacture gunpowder. The first one by a man named Edward Rawson near Newberry, Massachusetts.
Edward Rawson (April 16, 1615 – August 27, 1693)
Rawson's birthplace was Dorset, England, where he married his wife Rachel Perne in 1636. They left England that same year and settled near the town of Newberry. The people of Newberry elected him Public Notary and Register, a post he held until 1647. In 1639, the town of Newberry granted him 500 acres to establish a gunpowder mill.
Gunpowder History
Invented by the Chinese in the Ninth Century, gunpowder at first was not explosive, but it was flammable. One of the first recorded uses as a weapon is a drawing of a flamethrower. The Chinese refined the mix, and soon they made rockets and fireworks. They used fireworks at first to scare away evil spirits. The technology spread to the Mongols, to India and then the Arabs. The technology reached Europe by the Thirteenth Century. Historians are not sure if the Mongol invaders brought the technology or if the knowledge came in through the Silk Road. However, by the 1300's the Europeans had gunpowder.
Gunpowder
Classed as a "low explosive" substance, gunpowder produces a large amount of pressure and gas after a rapid burn. This explosion of gas and pressure is ideal for propelling a projectile down the barrel of a firearm or cannon. This explosion is not intense enough to destroy the device. Gunpowder is composed of three ingredients, potassium nitrate, carbon and sulfur. Sulfur comprises the smallest component at about ten percent. The colonies imported it from Sicily, which has huge deposits. Carbon is the next biggest component at about fifteen percent. They could manufacture this from charcoal, an abundant resource. Potassium nitrate is the most important at seventy-five percent and is the most difficult to obtain.
Potassium Nitrate
Potassium nitrate, or saltpeter, accumulates in caves as the composted remains of bat manure, or guano. The colonists knew of no natural sources of saltpeter in the New World. There is another way to produce saltpeter, but it is a long process. Any organic matter that contains nitrogen is a potential source for potassium nitrate. Manure, blood from slaughterhouses, and plant material of all kinds they would gather and put in a huge pile. They would water this pile from time to time with animal and human urine. This huge pile of organic matter would decompose, leaving compost behind. They would then leach the saltpeter out of this compost with water. They could then crystallize the saltpeter by evaporating the resulting liquid in the sun. This process typically took a year to produce the saltpeter needed for gunpowder.
The Gunpowder Mill
Unfortunately, beyond the mention of the land grant in little is known of this attempt. Mr. Rawson apparently had a servant named Richard Crane, who knew the process. Apparently, the attempts to produce saltpeter were not successful and the enterprise failed.

United States history begins many decades before July 4, 1776 when the colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. The first foundations of the nation were laid with the voyages of Christopher Columbus and the settlement that came later. The American History A Day at A Time - 2015 series is in an easy to read "This Day in History," format and includes articles by the author from that series. The reader may read the articles as they appear, or purchase the book:
A Year of Colonial American Frontier History

Facebook
@indianatreker
@MossyFeetBooks Twitter
@MossyFeetBooks
© Paul Wonning 2016