The United Colonies of New England, 1643-90

By Harry M. Ward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
A Time for Falling Out

As a result of the failure of the Union to bind its confederates to coercive action, the utility of the Confederation was greatly impaired. The Confederation which survived the crisis years found itself no longer leading the Puritan colonies in united policy; rather the Commissioners now merely gave expression to the particular wills of the general courts. Whereas the Commissioners on occasion had sought to exercise executive powers, such functions now rested indisputably with the individual councils of the magistrates of the colonies. The only real jurisdiction retained by the Commissioners was the "Indian Worke," the administrative policy of which will be discussed in the following chapter. With the coming of Charles II to the throne in 1660, it was soon apparent that the Confederation of 1643 was an anomaly in the royal scheme of things. Its right to exist was denied by royal authority; Connecticut's absorption of New Haven by royal charter, which left only three members, completely violated the Articles of Confederation; and the remaining confederates, on the defensive for fear of royal intervention, acted in many ways contrary to the Articles.

By 1667, the Confederation under the old Articles had for all practical purposes ended. If the Confederation were to be revived, a new covenant was obviously necessary. Except for the need to administer the funds of the Corporation for the converting of the Indians, the Confederation might have ended in that year. The period from 1655 to 1667 is of importance because of the denouement to the Confederacy resulting from the jarring experience of the New England colonies; coming face to face for the first time with imperial policy. Moreover, this period is of interest because during this time the lack of guidance by the Commissioners in Indian affairs, which was a vital concern of the early Confederacy, contributed to the great uprising of the New England Indians in 1675.

Indian problems were essentially the same; but it seemed

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