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and posterity might know how and why so many honest men had their blood shed, yea, and some flayed alive, others cut in pieces, and some roasted alive, only because Kichamokin, a Bay Indian, killed one Pequot."
To say the least of our author, he had the best possible means to be correctly informed of these matters, and we know not that he had any motive to misrepresent them.
Governor Winthrop mentions, under date 1646, that Mr. Eliot lectured constantly “one week at the wigwam of one Wabon, a new sachem near Watertown mill, and the other the next week in the wigwam of Cutshamekin, near Dorchester mill." We shall have occasion in another chapter to speak of Kutshamakin.
In 1648, Cutchamekin, as he was then called, and Jojeuny appear as witnesses to a deed made by another Indian called Cato, alias Goodman. Lane and Griffin were the grantees “in behalf of the rest of the people of Sudbury.” The tract of land sold adjoined Sudbury, and was five miles square; for which Cato received five pounds. Jojeuny was brother to Cato.*
Of the great nation of the Narragansets—Geography of their country-CANONICUS
-MIANTUNNOMOH—His relations-Aids the English in destroying the PequotsSells Rhode Island–His dificulties with the English-Visits Boston-His mag. nanimity and independence-Charged with a conspiracy against the whites-Ally repels it-WALANDANCE becomes his secret enemy-His speech to Waiandance and his people-His war with Uncas-His capture and death-Circumstances of his execution-Participation of the whiles therein-Impartial view of that affairTraditions—NINIGRET—Mexam, alias Mexano-Affair of Cuttaquin and Uncas -Character of Ascassassotick— Ninigret visits the Dutch-Accused by the English of plotting with them-Ably defends himself—Notices of various other IndiansWar between Ninigret and Ascassassotick-Present condition of his descendantsFurther account of Pessacus–Killed by the Mohawks.
The bounds of Narraganset were, as described in the times of the sachems, t "Pautuckit River, Quenebage(Quinebaugeland Nipmuck,"northerly;" westerly by a brook called Wequapaug, not far f from Paquatuck River; southerly by the sea, or main ocean; and easterly by the Nanhiganset Bay, wherein lieth many islands, by deeds bought of the Nanhiganset sachems.” Coweesett and Niantick, though sometimes applied to this country, were names only of places within it. According to Mr. Gookin, “ the territory of their sachem extended about 30 or 40 miles from Sekunk River and Narragansitt Bay, including Rhode Island and other islands in that bay.” Pawcatuck River separated them from the Pequots. This nation, under Canonicus, had, in 1642, arrived at the zenith of its greatness, and was supposed to have contained a population of thirty thousand. This estimate was by Richard Smith, jr., who, with his father, lived in their country.
In 1766, or about that year, Mr. Samuel Drake made a catalogue of the Narraganset Indians. This catalogue contained the names of about 315 persons. Mr. Drake spent 14 years among them, chiefly in the capacity of a schoolmaster. He wrote an account of them, but whether it was ever published I cannot learn. Ş
A census of those calling themselves a remnant of the Narragansets, taken Feb. 1832, was 315; only seven of whom were unmixed. The Indians themselves make their number 364. ||
Of the early times of this nation, some of the first English inhabitants learned from the old Indians, that they had, previous to their arrival, a sachein named Toshtassuck, and their encomiums upon his wisdom and valor were
* Suffolk Reg. Deeds. There is no name signed to the deed, but in the place thereof, is the picture of some four-legged animal drawn on his back. + See 3 Coll. Mass. Hist. Soc. i. 210.
Four or five miles, says Gookin. See Beatly's Journal, 106.
|| MS. letter of Rev. Mr. Ely.
much the same as the Delawares reported of their great chief Tamany, that Bince, there had not been his equal, &c. Tashtassuck had but two children, a son and daughter; these he joined in marriage, because he could find none worthy of them out of his family. The product of this marriage was four sons, of whom Canonicus was the oldest.*
CANONicus,f the great sachem of the Narragansets, was contemporary with Miantunnomoh, who was his nephew. We know not the time of his birth, but a son of his was at Boston in 1031, the next year after it was settled. But the time of his death is minutely recorded by Governor Winthrop, in his “Journal," thus: “ June 4, 1647. Canonicus, the great sachem of Narraganset, died, a very old man.” He is generally supposed to have been about 85 years of age when he died.
The Wampanoags were in great fear of the Narragansets about the time the English came to Plimouth, and at one time war actually existed, and Massasoit fled before Canonicus, and applied to the English for protection.
Edward Wing'ow relates, in his Good NEWS FROM NEW ENGLAND, that, in Feb. 1622, Canonicus sent into Plimouth, by one of his men, a bundle of arrows, bound with a rattlesnake's skin, and there left them, and retired. The Narragansets, who were reported at this time “many thousand strong,” hearing of the weakness of the English, “began, (says the above-named author,) to breath forth many threats against us," although they had the last summer “desired and obtained peace with us.”—“ Insomuch as the common talk of our neighbor Indians on all sides was of the preparation they made to come against us." They were now imboldened from the circumstance that the English had just added to their numbers, but not to their arms nor provisions. The ship Fortune had, not long before, landed 35 persons at Plimouth, and the Narragansets seem to have been well informed of all the circumstances. This, (says Mr. Winslow,) "occasioned them to slight and brave us with so many threats as they did. At length came one of them to us, who was sent by Conaucus, their chief sachem or king, accompanied with one Tokamahamon, a friendly Indian. This messenger inquired for Tisquantum, our interpreter, who not being at home, seemed rather to be glad than sorry; and leaving for him a bundle of new arrows, lapped in a rattlesnake's skin, desired to depart with all expedition."
When Squanto was made acquainted with the circumstance, he told the English that it was a challenge for war. Governor Bradford took the rattlesnake's skin, and filled it with powder and shot, and returned it to Canonicus ; at the same time instructing the messenger to bid him defiance, and invite him to a trial of strength. The messenger, and his insulting carriage, had the desired effect upon Canonicus, for he would not receive the skin, and it was cast out of every community of the Indians, until it at last was returned to Plimouth, and all its contents. This was a demonstration that he was awed into silence and respect of the English, by the decided stand and hostile attitude they assumed.
In 1021, soon after the war with Caunbitant was over, among those who sought the friendship of the English, was Canonicus himself, notwithstanding he was now courting war again so soon. He had doubtless nearly got rid of the fear that the news of Standish's conduct first inspired, and had taken up again his old resolution of fighting the strangers at Plimouth.
He is mentioned with great respect by Rev. Roger Williams, I in the year 1654. After observing that many hundreds of the English were witnesses to the friendly disposition of the Narragansets, he says, “ Their late famons longlived Caunonicus so lived and died, and in the same most honorable manner and solemnity, (in their way,) as you laid to sleep your prudent peace-maker, Mr. Winthrop, did they honor this their prudent and peaceable prince; yea,
* Hutchinson, i. 458, who met with this account in MS.; but we do not give implicit credit to it, as, at best, it is tradition.
t'This spelling does not convey the true pronunciation of the name; other spellii gs will be nouced in the course of his biography. Ils sound approached so near the Latin wori canoni. cus, that it became confounded with it. Qunnoune was early written.
Manuscript letter to the governor of Massachusetts.
through all their towns and countries how frequently do many, and oft times, our Englishmen travel alone with safety and loving kindness ?”
The following statement of Roger iVilliams is in a deposition, dated Narraganset, 18 June, 1682, and, although varying a little froin the above, contains facts very pertinent to our purpose. He says, “I testify that it was the general and constant declaration, that Canonicus his father had three sons, whereof Canonicus was the heir, and his youngest brother's son Meantinomy (because of his youth) was his marshal and executioner, and did nothing without liis uncle Canonicus' consent. And therefore I declare to posterity, that were it pot for the favor that God gave me with Canonicus, none of these parts, no, not Rhode Island, had been purchased or obtained; for I never got any thing of Canonicus but by gift.”
When Mr. John Oldham was killed near Block Island, and an investigation set on foot by the English to ascertain the murderers, they were fully satisfied that Canonicus and Miantunnomoh had no hand in the affair, but that “the six other Narraganset sachems had.” No wonder he took great offence at the conduct of the English concerning the death of Miantunnomoh. The Warwick settlers considered it a great piece of injustice, and Mr. Samuel Gorton wrote a letter for Canonicus to the government of Massachusetts, notifying them that he bad resolved to be revenged upon the Mohegans. Upon this the English despatched messengers to Narraganset to inquire of Canonicus whether he authorized the letter. He treated them with great coldness, and would not admit them into his wigwam for the space of two hours after their arrival, although it was exce
xceedingly rainy. When they were almitted, he frowned upon them, and gave them answers foreign to the purpose, and referred them to Pessacus. This was a very cold reception, compared with that which the messengers received when sent to him for information respecting the death of Mr. Oldham. “They returned with acceptance and good success of their business ; observing in the sachem much state, great command of his men, and marvellous wisdom in his answers; and in the carriage of the whole treaty, clearing himself and his neighbors of the murder, and offering revenge of it, yet upon very safe and wary conditions.”
This sachem is said to have governed in great harmony with his nephew. “The chiefest government in the country is divided between a younger sachen, Miantunnomu, and an elder sachem, Caunaunacus, of about fourscore years old, this young man's uncle; and their agreement in the government is remarkable. The old sachem will not be offended at what the young suchem doth; and the young sachem will not do what he conceives will displease his uncle." With this passage before him, Mr. Durfee versifies as follows, in bis poem called Whatcheer :
“Two mighty chiefs, one cautious, wise, and old,
One young, and strong, and terrible in tight,
One lodge they build—one counsel fire they light." " At a meeting of the commissioners of the United Colonies at Boston, vij Sept., 1643,” it was agreed that Massachusetts, in behalf of the other colonies, "give Conoonacus and the Nanohiggunsets to understand, that from time to time” they have taken notice of their violation of the covenant between them, notwithstanding the great manifestations of their love to them by the English; that they had concurred with Miantunnomoh in his late mischievous plots, hy which he had intended “to root out the hody of the English” from the country, by gifts and allurements to other Indians; and that he had invaded Uncas, contrary to the “ tripartie covenant” between himself, Uncus, and Connecticut. Therefore, knowing “ how peaceable Conanacus and Mascus, the late father of Myantenomo, governed that great people," they ascribed the late “ tumults and outbreakings” to the malicious, rash and ambitious spirit of Miantunnomoh, more than to “any affected way of their own."
Notwithstanding, Miantunnómoh being now put to death, the English and their confederate Indian sachems, namely, “ Vncus, sagaiore of the Mohegins,
This was written about 1613.
+ Col. R. I. Hist. Soc vol. i.
CANONICUS.-HIS WAR WITH THE PEQUOTS.
and his people, Woosamequine and his people, Sacanocoe and his people, Pumham and his people, were disposed, they said, still to have peace with the Narragansets; but should expect a more faithful observance of their agreement than they had shown hitherto.” This determination was to be immediately laid before them, and a prompt answer demanded.
In a grave assenibly, upon à certain occasion, Canonicus thus addressed Roger Williams: “I have never suffered any wrong to be offered to the English since they landed, nor never will;" and often repeated the word Wunnaunewayean. “If the Englishman speak true, if he mean truly, then shall I go to my grave in peace, and hope that the English and my posterity shall live in love and peace together.”
When Mr. Williams said he hoped he had no cause to question the Englishmen's wunnaumwaúonck, that is, faithfulness, having long been acquainted with it, Canonicus took a stick, and, breaking it into ten pieces, related ten instances wherein they had proved false; laying down a piece at each instance. Mr. Williams satisfied him that he was mistaken in some of them, and as to others he agreed to intercede with the governor, who, he doubted not, would make satisfaction for them.
In 1635, Rev. Roger Williams found Canonicus and Miantunnomoh carrying on a bloody war against the Wampanoags. By his intercession an end was put to it
, and he grew much in favor with all the sachems; especially Canonicus, whose “heart (he says) was stirred up to love me as his son to his last gasp.' He sold the Island of Rhode Island to William Coddington, Roger Williams, and others. A son of Canonicus, named Mriksah, is named by Williams as inheriting his father's spirit. This son is also called Meika, who, after his father's death, was chief sachem of the Narragansets, and was said to have been his eldest son. Many particulars of him will be found in our progress onward.
At the time of the Pequot war, much pains was taken to secure the friendship of Canonicus more firmly. Mr. Williams vrote to Governor Winthrop concerning him as follows: “Sir, if any thing be sent to the princes, I find Canounicus would gladly accept of a box of eight or ten pounds of sugar, and indeed he told me he would thank Mr. Governor for a box full." In another letter which Mr. Williams sent to the same by Miantunnomoh himself, he says, “I am bold to request a word of advice of you concerning a proposition made by Caunounicus and Miantunnomu to me some half year since. . Caunounicus gave an island in this bay to Mr. Oldham, by name Chibachuwese, upon condition, as it should seem, that he would dwell there near unto them.” The death of Mr. Oldham, it appears, prevented bis accepting it, and they offered it to Mr. Williams upon the same conditions; but he first desired to know whether, in so doing, it would be perfectly agreeable to Massachusetts, and that he had no idea of accepting, without paying the chiefs for it; said he told them “once and again, that for the present he mind not to remove; but if he had it, would give them satisfaction for it, and build a little house and put in some swine, as understanding the place to have store of fish and good feeding for swine.”' When Miantunnomoh heard that some of the Massachusetts men thought of occupying some of the islands, Canonicus, he says, desired he would accept of half of it, it being spectacle-wise, and between a mile or two in circuit;” but Mr. Williams wrote to inform them that, if he had any he desired the whole. This was not long before the Pequot war, which probably put a stop to further negotiation upon the subject.
There was another chief of the same name in Philip's war, which Mr. Hubbard denominates “the great_sachem of the Narragansets,” and who, "distrusting the proffers of the English, was slain in the woods by the Mohawks, his squaw surrendering herself: by this means her life was spared.” He was probably a younger son of Canonicus, or an immediate descendant.
In 1632, a war broke out between the Narragansets and the Pequots, on account of disputed right to the lands between Paucatuck River and Wecapaug Brook.* It was a tract of considerable consequence, being about ten miles
The natives are very exact and punctual in the bounds of their lands, belonging to this
wide, and fifteen or twenty long. Canonicus drew along with him, besides his own men, several of the Massachusetts sagamores. This was maintained with ferocity and various success, until 1635, when the Pequots were driven from it, but wlio, it would seem, considered themselves 5::t little worsted; for Cunonicus, doubting his ability to hold possession long, and ashamed to have it retaken from him, made a present of it to one of his captains, who had fought heroically in conquering it; but he never held possessica: however, after the Pequots were subdued by the English, these lands were possessed by the Narragansets again.
The name of this Pequot captain was Sokcso, sometimes called Soso, Sosoa, &c. He had killed one of his countrymen and fled to the Narragansets, who protected him. This tract of country was afterwards in dispute between the English. Sokoso having deeded it to some of them, (9 June, 1650,) an Englishman afterwards testified, that Sokoso had acknowledged, that, although he had received money for it, he never owned it. But, according to the testimony of Wawaloam, the wife of Miantunnomoh, there was doubtless some false swearing about it. It was reckoned to contain 20,000 acres, and the following is attested concerning it:-“1, Wawaloam, do affirm it to be Socho's or his assigns', and further, whereas my uncle Nenegrad sayeth that it is his land, I do utterly deny it before all men; for it was conquered by my husband Miantonomy, and my uncle Canonicus, long before the English had any wars with the Pequots; and my uncle Ninegrad had no hand in the war. This land was given and past over to the valiant Captain Socho, for service done for us before the English had any wars with the Pequots.”
It is said that, in the war between Uncas and Miantunnomoh, two of the sons of Canonicus fought on the side of Miantunnomoh, and were wounded when he was taken prisoner at Sachem's Plain.
Canonicus has been the subject of a poem which was published at Boston, in 1803. Among the tolerable passages are the following:
“A mighty prince, of venerable age,
A peerless warrior, but of peace the friend;
His arm, a hosilo punish or defend." Canonicus, at the age of 84 years, is made to announce his approaching dissolution to his people thus:
“ I die.—My friends, you have no cause to grieve:
No mists conceal Keesuckquand from our eyes.” About 1642, a son of Canonicus died, at which his grief was very great ; insomuch that, “ having buried his son, he burned his own palace, and all his goods in it, to a great value, in solemn remembrance of his son.”
Like other men ignorant of science, Canonicus was superstitious, and was greatly in fear of the English, chiefly, perhaps, from a belief in their ability to hurt him by enchantment, which belief, very probably, was occasioned by the story that Squanto circulated, of which, in a previous chapter, we have spoken. When Roger Williams fled into his country, he at first viewed him with distrust, and would only frown upon him; at length he accused him, as well as the other English, of sending the plague among the Indians; but, as we have said before, he soon became reconciled to him, gave him lands, and even protected bim. They became mutual helps to each other, and, but for animosities among the English themselves, it may be fair to conclude, friendship would have continued with the Narragansets through several generations.
or that prince or pecole, even to a river, brook, &c. And I have known them make bargain end sale amongst themselves, for a small piece, or quantity of ground; notwithstanding a sinful opinion amongst many, that Christians have right to heathen's lands." R. Williams.
See Poller's History of Narraganset, in Col. R. I. Hist. Soc. iii. 2 18. • Bv Jc'ın Lathrop, Á. M. in 8vo.