תמונות בעמוד

The juftices of the peace, as in other states, have cognizance of small causes ; and since the revolution their powers have been enlarged to an uncommon, if not to a dangerous extent.

Hiftory.) This state was firft settled from Massachusetts. Motives of the same kind with those which are well known to have occafioned the settlement of most of the other United States, gave birth to this. The emigrants from England who came to Massachusetts, though they did not perfectly agree in religious sentiments, had been tolerably united by their common zeal against the ceremonies of the church of England. But as soon as they were removed from ecclesiastical courts, and possessed of a patent allowing liberty of conscience, they fell into disputes and contentions among themselves. And notwithstanding all their sufferings and complaints in England, excited by the principle of uniformity, (such is human nature) the majority here were as fond of this principle, as those from whose persecution they had fled.

The true grounds of religious liberty were not embraced or understood at this time by any fect. While all disclaimed persecution for the sake of conscience, a regard for the public peace, and for the preservation of the church of Christ from infection, together with the obstinacy of the heretics, was urged in justification of that, which, stripped of all its disguises, the light of nature and the laws of Christ in the most solemn manner condemn.

Mr. Roger Williams, a minister, who came over to Salem in 1630; was charged with holding a variety of errors, and was at length banished from the then colony of Massachusetts, and afterwards from Plymouth, as a difturber of the peace of the Church and Commonwealth; and, as he says, ' a bull of excommunication was sent after him.' He had several treaties with Myantonomo and Canonicus, the Narragansett sachems, in 1634 and 1635, who assured him he should not want for land. And in 1634-5 he and twenty others, his followers, who were voluntary exiles, came io a place called by the Indians Moofhausick, and by him Providence.

Here they settled, and though secured from the Indians by the terror of the English, they for a considerable time greatly suffered through fatigue and want.

The unhappy divisions and contentions in Massachusetts ftill prevailed; and in the year 1636 Governor Winthrop ftrove to exterminate the opia nions which he disapproved. Accordingly a fynod was called at Newtown (now Cambridge) on the 30th of August, when eighty erroneous opinions were presented, debated, and condemned; and a court holden in October following, at the same place, banished a few leading persons of those who were accused of these errors, and censured several others; not, it seems, for holding these opinions, but for seditious conduct. The disputes which occasioned this disturbance, were about the same points as the five questions debated between the synod and Mr. Cotton, which are thus described by Dr. Mather: They were • about the order of things in our union to our Lord Jesus Christ; about the influence of our faith in the application of his righteousness; about the use of our fanctification in evi. dencing our justification; and about the consideration of our Lord Jesus Christ by men yet under a covenant of works; briefly, they were about the



points whereon depend the grounds of our assurance of blessedness in a better world *.'

The whole colony of Massachusetts, at this time, was in a violent ferment. The election of çivil officers was carried by a party spirit, excited by religious diffention. Those who were banished by the court, joined by a number of their friends, went in quest of a new settlement, and came to Providence, where they were kindly entertained by Mr. R. Williams, who, by the assistance of Sir Henry Vane, jun. procured for them, from the Indians, Aquidnick, now Rhode INand. Here, in 1638, the people, eighteen in number, formed themselves into a body politic, and chose Mr. Coddington, their leader, to be their judge, or chief magistrate. This same year the sachems signed the deed, or grant of the island; for which Indian gift, it is said, they paid very dearly, by being obliged to make repeated purchases of the fame lands from several claimants.

The other parts of the state were purchased of the natives at several successive periods.

In the year 1643, the people being destitute of a patent, or any legal authority, Mr. Williams went to England as agent, and by the assistance of Sir Henry Vane, jun. obtained of the Earl of Warwick (then governor and admiral of all the plantations) and his council, a free and absolute charter of civil incorporation, by the name of the incorporation of Providence Plantations in Narragansett Bay.' This fafted until the charter granted by Charles II. in 1863, by which the incorporation was stiled,

The English colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in · New-England.' This charter, without any eflential alteration, has remained the foundation of their government ever since.

As the original inhabitants of this state were persecuted, at least in their own opinion, for the sake of conscience, a most liberal and free toleration was established by them. So little has the civil authority to do with religion here, that, as has been already hinted, no contract between a minister and a society (unless incorporated for that purpose) is of any force. It is probably for these reasons that so many different feets have ever been found here; and that the Sabbath and all religious institutions have been more neglected in this, than in any other of the New-England sates. Mr. Williams is said to have become a Baptist in a few years after his settling at Providence, and to have formed a church of that perfuafion; which, in 1653, disagreed about the rite of laying on of hands fome holding it necetrary to church communion, and others judging it indifferent ; upon which the church was divided into two parts. At Newport Mr. John Clark and some others formed a church, in 1644, on the principles of the Baptists; which church was afterwards divided like that at Providence.

In 1720, there was a congregational church gathered at Newport, and the Reverend Nathaniel Clap was ordained as paftor. Out of this church another was formed in 1728. The worship of God according to the rites of the church of England was instituted here in 1706, by the Society for propagating the gospel in foreign parts; and in 1738 there were seven * Mag. B. 7. P. 17.


worshipping assemblies in this town, and a large society of Quakers at Portsmouth at the other end of the island.

In 1730, the colony was filled with inhabitants; and chiefly by the natural increase of the first settlers. The number of souls in the state at this time was 17,935; of which no more than 985 were Indians, and 1648 negroes.

in 1738, there were above one hundred sail of vessels belonging to Newport.

The colony of Rhode Island, from its local situation, has ever been less exposed to the incursions of the neighbouring Indians, and from the French from Canada, than their neighbours in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Many of the colony have, from its first establishment, profefied the principles of the Quakers, which forbad them to fight. For these reasons, the colony has been very little concerned in the old wars with the French and Indians. In the expedition against Port-Royal in 1710, and in the abortive attempt against Canada in 1711, they had some forces. Towards the intended expedition against Canada in 1746, they raised 300 men, and equipped a loop of war with 100 seamen ; but in their voyage to Nova-Scotia, they met with misfortunes and returned. Soon after the design was dropped.

Through the whole of the late unnatural war with Great-Britain, the inhabitants of this state have manifested a patriotic spirit; their troops have behaved gallantly, and they are honoured in having produced the second general in the field. The rage for paper-money in Rhode

Island is not peculiar to the present time. From 1710 to 1750, Dr. Douglass observes that the moft beneficial bufiness of the colony was, Banking or negociating a base, fraudulent, paper-money currency, which was so contrived, that amongst themselves it came out at about two and an half per cent. interest, and they lent it to the neighbouring colonies at ten per cent. a moft bare faced cheat. The interest of these public iniquitous frauds went, one quarter to the se, veral townships to defray their charges; the other three quarters were lodged in the treasury, to defray the government charges of the colony *.

In 1744, there was an emission of £.160,000 O. T. in paper bills of credit, under pretence of the Spanish and impending French war. But it was distributed among the people by way of loan at four per cent. interest for the first ten years, after which the principal was to be paid off by degrees in ten years more without interest. This foon depreciated.

În 1750, the current bills amounted to £.525,335 0. T. which in its depreciated state was then supposed, by the wise and honest, susficient for all the purposes of the colony ; yet it was then meditated to emit £.200,000 0. T. more upon loan. This Dr. Douglafs supposes could not have been designed as a further medium of trade, but a knavish device of fraudulent debtors of the loan of money, to pay off their loans at a very depreciated value t.' He again observes I, . Their design is by quantity to depreciate the value of their bills; and lands mortgaged for public bills

* Douglafs Sum. V. II. p. 99.

+ Ibid. p. 107.

I P. 87.

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will be redeemed in these minorated bills, at a very inconsiderable real va lue.' Were this writer living, would he not now speak the same language respecting the present state of Rhode INand?

But enough has already been said * upon the paper-money, injustice, and political confusion which pervade this unhappy Itate. I will only observe, that these measures have deprived the state of great numbers of its worthy and most respectable inhabitants; they have had a most pernicious infiuence upon the morals of the people, by legally depriving the widow and the orphan of their juft dues, and otherwise establishing iniquity by law, and have occasioned a ruinous ftagnation of trade. It is hoped the time is not far distant, when a wise and efficient government will abolish these iniquitous laws, and restore tranquillity to the state.


Length 82

Between $ 41° and 42° 2' North Latitude.
Breadth 57 S

lioso' and 3° 20' East Longitude.



l; Long-Ifand; west, by the state of New-York.

The divisional line between Connecticut and Massachusetts, as settled in 1713, was found to be about seventy-two miles in length. The line dividing Connecticut from Rhode Isand, was settled in 1728, and found to be about forty-five miles. The sea coast, from the mouth of Paukatuk river, which forms a part of the eastern boundary of Connecticut, in a direct fouthwestwardly line to the mouth of Byram river, is reckoned at about ninety miles. The line between Connecticut and New-York runs from latitude 41° to latitude 42° 2'; 72 milest. Connecticut contains about 4,674 square miles; equal to about 2,960,000 acres.

Rivers.] The principal rivers in this state are Connecticut, defcribed under New-England, Houfatonik, the Thames, and their branches. One branch of the Housatonik I rises in Lanelborough, the other in Windsor, both in Berkshire county in Massachusetts. It passes through

* See Hift. of United States, p. 120, &c.
+ Douglass.
| An Indian name, signifying Over the Mountain.

a number

a number of pleasant towns, and empties into the sound between Stratford and Milford. It is navigable twelve miles to Derby. A bar of thells, at its mouth, obstructs its navigation for large vefsels. In this river, be. tween Salisbury and Canaan, is a cataract, where the water of the whole river, which is 150 yards wide, falls about fixty feet perpendicularly, in a perfectly white seet. A copious mist arises, in which floating rainbows are seen in various places at the same time, exhibiting a scene exceedingly grand and beautiful.

Naugatuk is a small river which rises in Torrington, and empties into the Houfatonik at Derby. Farmington river rises in Becket, in Marfachusetts, and after a very crooked course, part of which is through the fine meadows of Farmington, it empties into Connecticut river in Windfor.

The Thames empties into Long-Ifand found at New-London. It is navigable fourteen miles, to Norwich Landing. Here it loses its name, and branches into Shetucket, on the eaft, and Norwich or Little river, on the west. The city of Norwich stands on the tongue of land between these rivers. Little river, about a mile from its mouth, has a remarkable and very romantick cataract. A rock ten or twelve feet in perpendicular height, extends quite across the channel of the river. Over this the whole river pitches, in one entire sheet, upon a bed of rocks below. Here the river is compressed into a very narrow channel between two craggy cliffs, one of which towers to a considerable height. The channel defcends gradually, is very crooked and covered with pointed rocks. Upon these the water swiftly tumbles, foaming with the most violent agitation, fifteen or twenty rods, into a broad balon which spreads before it. At the bottom of the perpendicular falls, the rocks are curiously excavated by the constant pouring of the water. Soine of the cavities, which are all of a circular form, are five or six feet deep. The smoothness of the water above its descent--the regularity and beauty of the perpendicular fall—the tremendous roughness of the other, and the craggy, towering diff which impends the whole, present to the view of the spectator a scene indescribably delightful and majestic. On this river are some of the finest mill feats in New-England, and those immediately below the falls, occupied by Lathrop's mills, are perhaps not exceeded by any in the world. Acrofs the mouth of this river is a broad, commodious bridge, in the form of a wharf, built at a great expence,

Shetucket river, the other branch of the Thames, four miles from its mouth, receives Quinnabog, which has its fource in Brimfield, in Massachusetts ; thence passing through Šturbridge and Dudley in Massachusetts, it crosses into Connecticut, and divides Pomfret from Killingly, Can. terbury from Plainfield, and Lisbon from Preston, and then mingles with the Shetucket. In passing through this hilly country, it tumbles over many falls, and affords a vast number of mill feats. The source of the Shetucket is not far from that of the Quinnabog. It has the name of Willamantik while passing through Stafford, and between Tol. Jand and Willington, Coventry and Mansfield.' Below Windham it takes the name of Shetucket, and empties as above. These rivers are fed by pumberless brooks from every part of the adjacent country. At the mouth of Shetucket, is a bridge of timber 124 feet in length, supported


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