The United Colonies of New England, 1643-90

By Harry M. Ward | Go to book overview

PREFACE

This in a study of intercolonial cooperative action among the New England colonies from their beginnings to the New York Conference of 1690. The towering experiment of the period was the Confederation of four New England colonies, which served a practical purpose for nearly fifty years and was destined to implant in the minds of the colonists the idea of federal union and to serve as a precedent for the later American Union.

The United Colonies of New England was the acorn from which the mighty oak sprang. The seedling may appear at times tender and frail--in such terms as population and resources--when compared to a modern age, but it is the lesson of history that great events have small beginnings. The American Revolution, one of the most far-reaching events of all time, was accomplished in an arena of a scattered and not always sympathetic populace numbering less than the present state of Guatemala. As a prime mover of the Puritan Confederation expressed it: "Small things in the beginning of natural or politic bodies are as remarkable as greater in bodies full grown."

A word may be said about the transcribing of seventeenth century script. Until recently it was the fashion to transfer literally the many contemporary abbreviations and signs when making direct quotations, as if this method would better preserve the quaintness of the period. But such frill-like writing was nothing more than a shorthand method and does not therefore depict the actual spelling of the words intended. Thus, in quotations an attempt is made to spell out the words beyond the shorthand used, according to the spelling intended. Also, for the sake of readability, certain letterings are sometimes changed, for example: substituting the letter "u" for the words beginning with "v" (e.g., "united Colonys") and "v" for "u" in such words as "have."

Dating presents a problem. In Great Britain and the American colonies of the seventeenth century the Old Style method of reckoning time was used--thus a date in the seventeenth century is ten days earlier than that reckoned by the present Gregorian calendar (e.g., May 19 becomes May 29). The first day of the year was March 25, with March considered as the first month. The matter is further complicated in that the Dutch,

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