The United Colonies of New England, 1643-90

By Harry M. Ward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
Dominion Interlude

After King Philip's War, in the words of that doughty divine Cotton Mather, there ensued a "Lamentable Decade." It was a time when new attacks were made upon the Puritan governments of the colonies, resulting in the revocation of the Massachusetts Charter. The Indians on the northern frontier continually wrought havoc on the outlying settlements of the Bay. In religion and public affairs, the Puritan oligarchy was beginning to be on the defensive; the times called for greater freedom of movement and expression. But the saddest event, in the eyes of the New England Puritans, was the effecting of one of their great fears, ever present since the founding of the Puritan colonies: the setting up of a governor-general over the colonies. This attempt of the Stuart government to consolidate the New England colonies and New York under one administration was doomed from the start, for the colonies, though experienced in cooperative action, were too much states-unto-themselves to be brought with the stroke of a pen into one hierarchy of government.

The Andros Regime of 1686-9 was so resented in New England for its arbitrary government and its attack upon the settled institutions of the colonies that after the Revolution of 1689 the colonists sought to erase all semblance of the Dominion government from their memory. The Dominion of New England was to be but an interlude in the state of things--a three year void. In all, the period from the end of King Philip's War to the fall of the Dominion government in 1689 is a period of little activity on the part of the Confederation. Three triennial meetings were held in 1678, 1681, and 1684, and one special session in 1679. The meetings were perfunctory; the main business was the apportionment of the war debt of the colonies. The special session of August, 1679, was not an emergency session in the real sense of the term. In the summer of 1679, a letter had been received from the king directing the colonies to submit an ac-

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