National Geographic : 1923 Apr
MASSACHUSETTS: ITS POSITION IN THE LIFE OF THE NATION 339 in matters of government. The conclu sion of the whole matter was individual liberty. A KING'S THREAT CAUSED FOUNDING OF MASSACIUSETTS This did not occur all at once. Toler ation is not a self-evident truth. Wher ever power is lodged in a monarch, always he has sought to maintain and extend it by encroachment upon the liberties of the people. When the more advanced of the Puri tans sought to put their principle of free dom into practical effect by separation from the established church, they were met by the notorious threat of the king that he would make them conform or he would harry them out of the land. In that threat lay the foundation of Massachusetts. That little band, from among whom were to come those made forever immortal by that voyage of the Mayflower, sought refuge in Holland, where, under the protection of William the Silent, the conscience of man was free. What manner of men they were, what ideals they cherished, are described to us by their pastor, John Robinson. "The people," said he, "are industrious and frugal. We are knit together as a body in a most sacred covenant of the Lord, of the violation whereof we make great conscience, and by virtue whereof we hold ourselves strictly tied to all care of each other's good and of the whole by everyone, and so mutually. It is not with us as with men whom small things can discourage." In that simple statement is to be found the principle of prosperity, responsibility, and social welfare, all based on religion. PRIDE OF RACE MADE TIEM PILGRIMS A pride of race and of language deter mined them to seek out a location for themselves where they would be equally free and where they would not be in jeopardy of losing their identity through being absorbed in an overwhelming mass of people. They were of humble origin. The bare necessities of existence had been won by them in a strange country only at the ex pense of extreme toil and hardship. They did not shrink from the prospect of a like experience in America. "They knew they were Pilgrims," said Robinson, "and looked not much on those things, but lifted up their eyes to heaven, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits." Such was the sentiment cherished by those who were setting out to exert so large an influence in the building of the most powerful empire which the world has ever seen. They left behind their old pastor, John Robinson, a great man possessed of a great vision and inspired by great piety, not only a clergyman but a statesman. Winslow reports that in his final charge to this congregation he told them: "If God reveal anything to us by any other instrument of His, to be as ready to re ceive it as ever we were to receive any truth by his ministry, for he was very confident the Lord had more truth and light yet to break forth out of His Holy Word"-an admonition to keep an open mind, an expression of firm belief in progress. It was such a people, strengthened by such a purpose, obedient to such a mes sage, who set their course in the little Mayflower across the broad Atlantic on the sixth day of September, 1620, old style, which is celebrated under the new calendar as Marne Day. THEY WERE SEEKING A SITE ON THE DELAWARE RIVER The country they sought lay around the Delaware River, which was under the charter of the London Company, from which they had secured a grant of land. A providential breeze carried them far to the north, while storms and the frail con dition of their ship prevented them from continuing to their destination. They came to anchor off Provincetown, far outside the jurisdiction of their own patent and the authority of existing laws. Undismayed, they set about to estab lish their own institutions and recognize their own civil authority. Gathering in the narrow cabin of the Mayflower, piously imploring the divine presence, in mutual covenant they ac knowledged the power "to enacte, consti tute, & frame just & equall lawes, ordi nances, actes, constitutions & offices," to which they pledged "all due submission & obedience."