The Year: 1647
Image: Witchcraft Trial
In 1642, witchcraft became punishable by death in the Connecticut Colony. This capital offense was backed by references to the King James version of the Bible: Exodus (22:18) says, Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. And Leviticus (20:27) says, A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood (shall be) upon them.
Belief in witchcraft was common in seventeenth-century New England. The infamous witchcraft trials at Salem in 1692 are well known, but if you exclude those, ninety-three complaints of witchcraft were made in New England between 1638 and 1697—forty-three in Connecticut and fifty in Massachusetts, which was much more heavily populated.
The Year: 1639
Image: Buying Enslaved Africans
Connecticut had black slaves as early as 1639. In 1650, Connecticut became the second colony after Massachusetts to recognize slavery as a legal institution. The slavery of Africans became a fact of everyday life, and became an accepted system of labor by 1680.
Connecticut grew crops, raised cattle, and felled logs to sell in the West Indies, because many Caribbean islands were busy growing the more profitable sugar cane. That sugar cane, produced by captive Africans, was brought north to the Connecticut Colony as molasses and sugar products, which were distilled into rum in such quantities that Connecticut became the New World’s leading distiller.
The Year: 1645
Image: Slave Prayer Meeting
New Hampshire’s African heritage dates back to 1645 and centers on the state’s only port at Portsmouth. The first known black person in Portsmouth came from the west coast of Africa. He was captured one Sunday when slave merchants attacked his village in Guinea, killing about a hundred persons and wounding others.
Upon arrival in Boston, the slave was bought by a Mr. Williams of Piscataqua. When the General Court of the colony learned of the raid and kidnapping, it ordered the merchants to return the African to his home. Slavery was not the issue of concern—human bondage was legal. The court was indignant that the raiders had violated the Sabbath.
A Southern Colony
The Province of Maryland was an English colony in North America that was founded in 1632. It began as a proprietary colony of Lord Baltimore, who wanted to create a haven for English Catholics in the New World, and to demonstrate that Catholics and Protestants could live together harmoniously. Although Maryland was an early pioneer of religious tolerance in the British colonies, religious strife between Anglicans, Puritans, Catholics, and Quakers was common in the early years.
A Royal Charter
Charles I of England granted a charter for about twelve million acres to Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore on June 20, 1632. The charter had originally been granted to Calvert’s father, George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore, but he died before it could be executed, so it was granted to his son. Cecil had converted to Catholicism, which was a severe stigma for a nobleman in 17th century England. Catholics were considered enemies of the crown and traitors to their country.
Early 17th Century
All references to the Women’s Rights Movement in the United States begin with the First Women’s Rights Convention in 1848. I think that is wrong. I believe the movement began long before that. In fact, I believe it began the moment Mary Chilton set foot on Plymouth Rock.
History’s Forgotten Women
What about the Women on the Mayflower? Were these not brave women? Did they not brave the uncertainties of the New World—never knowing what dangers they would encounter? Did they not play a vital role in building the New England Colonies? Did they not work alongside the men to create this great country of ours?
The Year: 1638
Early explorations of Delaware’s coastline were made by Samuel Argall in 1610. During a storm, Argall was blown off course and sailed into a bay that he named in honor of his governor—Lord De La Warr. In 1631, the first white settlement was made on Delaware soil, after a group of Dutchmen formed a trading company headed by Captain David Pietersen de Vries. The expedition of about 30 individuals sailed from the town of Hoorn on the ship De Walvis (The Whale). Arriving in the New World in 1632, Captain de Vries found the settlers had been killed and their buildings burned by the Indians.
In 1638, a Swedish trading post and colony was established at Fort Christina (now Wilmington) by Dutchman Peter Minuit and a group of Swedes, Finns, and Dutch. This was the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley.
The Middle Colonies — New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania — created a unique environment of early settlement by non-English Europeans, mostly Dutch and German. English men and women were the smallest minority. These immigrants came mostly in family units that preserved a balanced sex ratio.
The Middle Colonies were the most ethnically and religiously diverse of the thirteen original colonies because of the influence of their Polish, English, Dutch, French and German origins. In this atmosphere of religious tolerance, New Netherland and New Amsterdam became the commercial center of the eastern North American colonies.
The Year: 1638
New Sweden was a small Swedish settlement along the Delaware River on the Mid-Atlantic coast of North America. It was centered at Fort Christina, now in Wilmington, Delaware, and included parts of Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The settlement was founded March 29, 1638, and was incorporated into Dutch New Netherland on September 15, 1655. Along with Swedes, a large number of the settlers were Dutch.
By the middle of the 17th century, Sweden was one of the great powers in Europe. Sweden then included Finland and Estonia and parts of modern Russia, Poland, Germany and Latvia. Inspired by the other European powers, the Swedes wanted to expand their territory into the New World. America was seen as the standard-bearer of enlightenment and freedom, and became the ideal of liberal Swedes.
In 1637, Swedish, Dutch and German stockholders formed the New Sweden Company to trade for furs and tobacco in North America. Under the command of Peter Minuit, the company’s first expedition sailed from the port of Gothenburg in late in 1637 in two ships. Minuit had been the governor of the Dutch colony, New Netherland, from 1626 to 1631.
In late March 1638, the members of the expedition, aboard the ships Fogel Grip and Kalmar Nyckel, sailed into Delaware Bay and anchored at a rocky point that is known today as Swedes’ Landing.
The Year: 1640
Image: Penelope Stout Commemorative Coin
Shows her being carried away by Indians
Woes in the New World
Penelope Van Princis Stout was born in 1622 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She married John Kent in 1640, and the couple sailed for New Amsterdam (now New York City) on Manhattan Island in the American colony of New Netherland. For unknown reasons, their ship ran aground at the coast of what is now Monmouth County, New Jersey. The ship’s other passengers decided to continue toward their destination on foot, but Penelope remained with her sick husband who was too weak to walk.
Penelope and her husband had not been in the woods very long when they were attacked by Native Americans and left for dead. But the woman was not killed – only stunned. She was horribly cut and mangled, her skull fractured, her left shoulder hacked, and a great cut across the abdomen caused her bowels to protrude. There was little hope of her ever recovering – but no one told her that!
The Year: 1639
Lady Deborah Moody was christened Deborah Dunch in London in 1586. She came from a wealthy family with both political and religious connections, but also one that believed strongly in civil liberties and religious non-conformity. Deborah married Henry Moody, a well-connected landholder. He was later given knighthood, and she became Lady Deborah. In 1629, Henry passed away, when she was approximately 33.
Image: Map showing Long Island and New Amsterdam, later renamed New York
At this time, England was in great religious turmoil, and Lady Deborah was very attracted to Anabaptism, a Protestant sect that believed that baptism should be received by adult believers, but not children.