New England self-perception circa 1810

Some fairly random excerpts from Timothy Dwight's Travels in New England and New York (4 vols., 1821–1822).

Character of the inhabitants of Boston.
Dear Sir,

Having presented to you an imperfect picture of Boston, I will now attempt to exhibit the character of its Inhabitants.

The Bostonians, almost without an exception, are derived from one country and a single stock. They are all descendants of Englishmen ; and of course are united by all the great bonds of society ; language, religion, government, manners and interests
. You will easily believe therefore, that they exhibit as much unity of character, as can accord with the nature of free and civilized society. With a very small number of exceptions, they speak the English language in the English manner; are protestants, hold the great principles of English liberty ; are governed voluntarily by the English common law, and by statutes, strongly resembling those of Great Britain, under a Constitution, essentially copied from the British, and by courts in almost every respect the same. Their education, also, differs very little in the school, the shop, the counting-house, or the University. Although they are Republicans, and generally Congregationalists ; they are natively, friends of good order, and firm government; and feel the reputation of Old Massachusetts in much the same manner as an Englishman feels the honour of Old England.

You will remember, that every New-Englander, with hardly an exception is taught to read, write, and keep accounts. By means of this privilege knowledge is probably more universally diffused, here, than in any other considerable town in the world. A great number of the inhabitants, also, have been liberally educated. In examining a Catalogue of the members of the University in Cambridge, a short time since, I observed that about one fourth of the whole number were natives of Boston. Persons of this character, from the state of society, mix more freely, and converse more generally than in other countries, with those of every class. Hence, also, information is more universally diffused.

On Essex County:
As Lynn is the last town in the County of Essex, lying on our road, it will not be improper here, to make some general observations concerning this County.

The County of Essex is the North-Eastern corner of Massachusetts-proper ; and is not far from forty miles long and twenty-fire broad. Its form is triangular : Salisbury being the North-Eastern, Methuen the North-Western, and Lynn the Southern, angles. On the Eastern side it is washed by the ocean. On the Western, it is bounded by the County of Middlesex, and on the Northern, by the Counties of Rockingham and Hillsborough in New-Hampshire. Essex may all be considered as an ancient settlement, and no County in Massachusetts, except Suffolk, which is composed almost wholly of Boston, is equally populous. In 1790 it contained seven thousand six hundred and forty-four dwelling-houses, ten thousand eight hundred and eighty-three families, and fifty-seven thousand nine hundred and thirteen inhabitants. There are about four hundred and fifty-three square miles in this County. [. . .]

In 1810 the whole number of inhabitants in this County was seventy-one thousand eight hundred and eighty-eight.*

Salem, Newburyport, Gloucester, Marblehead, Beverly, Havfihill and Manchester are commercial, and fishing, towns ; and contained, together, in 1800, thirty-three thousand six hundred and twenty inhabitants. To these may be added from Ipswich, Amesbury, Salisbury, Bradford, &c. enough to make the number forty thousand : a greater number, than are employed in this business in any County of the United States; if we except the cities of Philadelphia and New-York. The commerce of this County is very great: and the fish caught, and exported, by its inhabitants, are more, it is believed, than one half of all, which are exported from the Union. Its wealth is proportionally great. Of every thousand pounds, raised by a State tax, this County pays £193 13s. 7d.: almost a fifth part of the whole : and this proportion probably falls short of its wealth, compared with that of every other County, except Suffolk. The surface of this County is generally pleasant; the soil in most places pretty good ; and the agriculture creditable to the inhabitants. The farmers are, accordingly, in good thrift. No County in the United States is believed to be more friendly to literature ; and perhaps none is more distinguished for its morals.

Essex was made a County, when the Colony of Massachusettsbay was first divided.

From the preface:
In both New-England, and New-York, every man is permitted, and in some, if not all the States, is required to possess fire arms. To trust arms in the hands of the people at large has, in Europe, been believed, and so far as I am informed universally, to be an experiment, fraught only with danger. Here by a long trial it has been proved to be perfectly harmless: neither public nor private evils having ever flowed from this source, except in instances of too little moment to deserve any serious regard. If the government be equitable ; if it be reasonable in its exactions; if proper attention be paid to the education of children in knowledge, and religion, few men will be disposed to use arms, unless for their amusement, and for the defence of themselves and their country. The difficulty, here, has been to persuade the citizens to keep arms; not to prevent them from being employed for violent purposes. [. . .]

The conversion of a wilderness into a desirable residence for man is an object, which no intelligent spectator can behold without being strongly interested in such a combination of enterprise, patience, and perseverance. Few of those human efforts, which have excited the applause of mankind, have demanded equal energy, or merited equal approbation. A forest, changed within a short period into fruitful fields, covered with houses, schools, and churches, and filled with inhabitants, possessing not only the necessaries and comforts, but also the conveniences of life, and devoted to the worship of Jehovah, when seen only in prophetic vision, enraptured the mind even of Isaiah; and when realized, can hardly fail to delight that of a spectator. At least, it may compensate the want of ancient castles, ruined abbeys, and fine pictures. This is a subject, which, hitherto, has scarcely found a place in the productions of the press; and will be imperfectly comprehended by those, who have not seen the process extensively, and examined it with interest.

These considerations furnish a partial answer to the question, mentioned above. An additional reason for undertaking the pres. I work, as has already been hinted, was the injustice done to these countries by European travellers. The United States have been regarded by this class of men as fair game, to be hunted down at pleasure. Nor have travellers alone entered the chase. Other writers, particularly literary journalists, have united with them in the pursuit; and, it must be acknowledged, with sufficient keenness.

New-England has been the object of this persecution from its infancy. The spirit, which drove our ancestors to these shores, followed them across the Atlantic; and from that time to the present has endeavoured to satiate itself by calumniating both them and their descendants. Hardly an attempt has, in the mean time, been made towards their defence. Silence under such aspersions is easily construed into a confession of their truth. To resist this construction, and the injustice to which it owes its origin, is unquestionably one of the duties, incumbent on the natives of New England. [. . .]

Two fifths, therefore, of the white population of the American Republic, its only real strength, are included in the Northern States. [. . .]

The attachment felt by every man to the land, which gave him birth, and which invests it in his mind with a peculiar importance, will be rationally supposed to have enhanced these considerations in my own. If a Laplander believes the frosty region around him to have been the seat of Paradise ; and an Icelander can find a comfortable life no where, but in the dreary island in which he was born ; it cannot be thought strange that a native of New England should feel a part of the same interest in the scenes, which have accumulated so many, and so various, enjoyments around himself, and all who have been dear to him, from his earliest remembrance.

At the same time, this was a task, which no other person appeared likely to perform. I am not acquainted with a single American, who has travelled through these States for the purpose of examining, and describing them. Multitudes of my countrymen make many journeys of pleasure, as well as of business ; but, none or certainly very few, designed for this kind of investigation. What was observed to me and my companions at Provincetown, that "we were the first persons, who had ever travelled over that peninsula from motives of curiosity," might have been said with much propriety of many other parts of the countries which I have visited. Had not the object fallen incidentally in my way; this account would never have been begun.

These letters are addressed to an English gentleman. Sufficient reasons for adopting this address will, it is believed, appear from the letters themselves. I wish it, however to be understood, that they are written for my own Countrymen. From the numerous errors, published in Great Britain concerning American subjects, of the most obvious nature, and such as seem hardly to admit of mistake, it is naturally concluded, that few persons in that Island feel any wish to become acquainted with the situation of the United States, or with the real character of their inhabitants. By the government, indeed, we must, from the extent of our territory, our local circumstances, our population, and our commerce, be considered as possessing a degree of political importance; and by the merchants of Liverpool, and the manufacturers of Manchester, Birmingham, and Sheffield, we may be regarded with some attention as customers. But, except by the religious part of the British nation, we seem to be chiefly unknown, or forgotten, in the character of rational beings; or known, and remembered, almost only to be made the objects of contempt, and calumny. A book, which professes nothing more than to give a description of a country and a people, regarded in this manner, can form no claims on the attention of those, by whom the subjects of which it treats, are thus estimated. It may indeed be read, or at least reviewed, by some or other of the literary journalists of Great Britain. From these gentlemen, Americans, and their writings, have customarily met with one kind of treatment only. I neither claim, nor wish, any exemption from the common lot of my countrymen.

The remarks on several works, published by European travellers concerning the American States, particularly concerning New-England and New-York, were demanded by the nature of my design. The account, which I proposed to give, would have been incomplete, had not so many of their errors been pointed out, as to shew that reliance cannot safely be placed on their representations. Most of these errors were probably unintentional. On some I cannot put this construction.

Charges preferred against the Colonists of New-England, examined; viz. their separation from the Church of England ; their Superstition ; their Rigidness; their observance of the Sabbath with Jewish rigour; their adoption of the Municipal Law of the Jews; their resistance to the British Government; their oppression of the Aborigines.:
Dear Sir,

You will undoubtedly believe, that the censures, which I have heretofore mentioned as so extensively cast upon the early settlers of New-England, were not wholly unmerited. I admit the rationality of this conclusion, and will now proceed to make some observations concerning what I deem the faulty side of their character. This I will endeavour to do without partiality.

In their separation from the Church of England I think them justifiable ; although, for myself, I should find no difficulty in worshipping under a conscientious and Evangelical minister of that Church ; nor feel any considerable embarrassment in conducting, for a congregation, who seriously chose it, their worship according to the prescriptions of her Liturgy. It is true, I do not think this the best mode of conducting public worship. Still, I think it a good one ; and fully believe, that it has proved the means of conversion, and of distinguished moral excellence, to very great multitudes of my fellow men. I will go farther, and acknowledge cheerfully, what I really believe, that the English Church has done more than most others, to promote the cause of Christianity. I will acknowledge also, that our ancestors were more solicitous about the surplice, and the ceremonies, than their importance required; if, indeed, these were the real causes of their solicitude. Provided a minister is dressed with decency, I am perfectly willing, that he should regulate his own dress. If my neighbour chooses to worship, kneeling; whether I myself kneel or stand, I shall certainly not disturb him. Against the use of the sign of the Cross in Baptism I should certainly object; but could bave worshipped very quietly with those, who used it, if I found in them no other, or greater, errours. I could have submitted to the Ecclesiastical government of a Bishop : for I believe a Bishop to be an authorised minister of the Gospel: although I cannot find a single trace of the Prelatical character in the New Testament ; and fully believe the declaration, made in the " Institution of a Christian Man ;" (a work, approved by your King and Parliament, and the main body of your Clergy;) that " in the New Testament there is no mention made of any other degrees, but of Deacons or Ministers, and of Presbyters or Bishops." Still many of your own Prelatical Bishops have rendered such important service to Christianity, that I cannot hesitate to regard them with high respect. Generally, I should never quarrel with a LowChurch-man, on account of his principles; but should never expect to harmonize very cordially with those of a Jacobite. Had I been born under the ministry of the late Mr. Milner, of Hull; the late Mr. Walker, of Truro ; or of any one among multitudes, whom I could name in your Church; I should probably have considered myself as placed in desirable circumstances for the attainment of eternal life.

But I could not have submitted to the edicts of the first, or of the second, James. I could not have submitted to the dominion of Archbishop Laud. I could not submit to any man, requiring of me the profession of doctrines, which I did not believe ; or conformity to worship, which the Scriptures have not enjoined. The Ablutions of the Pharisees were trifles, in a great measure harmless, so long as they were regarded in the character of things, which might be conveniently done. But, when they were enjoined upon others, and were announced to be binding upon the conscience ; they became fraught with danger and mischief.

God alone is Lord of the conscience; and nothing, but what He has required, can become an Institution in the religious sense. This is a field, into which man cannot enter without intrusion. Here neither King nor Pontiff, neither Parliament nor General Council, have either rights, or powers. A religious law can be formed only by Divine Authority; and can be found only in the Scriptures. Those, who "teach for doctrines the commandments «f men," will ever worship God in vain. With these views, I should certainly have been a non-conformist. Were I now to censure your Church; my objections would principally lie against her dereliction of her articles, the relaxation of her discipline, and the legalized introduction of civil and military officers, as such, to her Eucharist. This, your King and Parliament have no right to require. To this, your Clergy cannot, so far as I see, conscientiously submit. When, therefore, you feel, hereafter, disposed to censure the early settlers of New-England for suffering none to hold public offices, beside Professors of religion; remember, that they followed, with more good sense, and incomparably more consistency with the dictates of religion, the plan, marked out by your own Government. Your Government required all its officers to partake of the Lord's Supper. These men chose their officers out of such, as could lawfully partake of this ordinance.

The settlers of New-England fled from persecution. Every Government in the Christian world claimed, at that time, the right to control the religious conduct of its subjects. This claim, it is true, finds no warrant in the Scriptures. But its legitimacy had never been questioned, and therefore never investigated. All, that was then contended for, was, that it should be exercised with justice and moderation. Our ancestors brought with them to America the very same opinions concerning this subject, which were entertained by their fellow-citizens, and by all other men of all Christian countries. As they came to New-England, and underwent all the hardships, incident to colonizing it, for the sake of enjoying their religion, unmolested; they naturally were very reluctant that others, who had borne no share of their burdens, should wantonly intrude upon this favourite object, and disturb the peace of themselves and their families. With these views, they began to exercise the claim, which I have mentioned ; and, like the people of all other countries, carried the exercise to lengths, which nothing can justify. But it ought ever to be remembered, that no other civilized nation can take up the first stone to cast against them. An Englishman, certainly, must, if he look into the Ecclesiastical annals of his own country, be forever silent on the subject. It ought also to be remembered, that they scrupulously abstained from disturbing all others; and asked nothing of others, but to be unmolested at home.

They have been accused of Superstition. In some degree, I think this accusation just. To what nation is it not applicable? Their descendants hung the witches at Salem; and for this conduct merited the severest censure. Look into the records of your own Courts; and you will be obliged, for the same reason, to fasten the same censure upon your own country. This, you will say, does not at all excuse the people of New-England. You say it justly. Still it shows, that the New-England people were as little stained with this guilt, as those, who with no little indecency exult over their faults and errours.

It ought to be here observed, that a belief in the existence, and power, of witches, although unwarranted either by reason, or Revelation, has been the universal belief of man. From causes, which I may find an opportunity to mention elsewhere, it is probably true, that no people on the globe, at the present time, give so little credit to things of this imaginary nature, as the people of this very country. Even Conjurers and Fortunetellers, who so easily fascinate the curiosity of mankind, and acquire an importance in the eye of fancy, which reasonVeprobates, are generally regarded, here, with contempt and ridicule.

Rigidness is connected, of course, with superstition; and is perhaps always attendant, also, upon a state of controversy, whether real or apprehended. Where we feel ourselves in danger of being attacked, we are apt to be on our guard against the invader. Where demands, in our apprehension unfounded and unreasonable, are either made upon us, or expected, we fortify ourselves, watchfully, against every compliance. What in other circumstances we should cheerfully yield, in these we strenuously refuse ; and, sedulously attentive to the main object, are little solicitous concerning our subordinate measures, whether reasonably or rigid, whether moderate or excessive. The Settlers of New England came to America precisely in these circumstances. They left Great Britain with a strong and habitual sense of the inequitable controversy, which for many years they had been forced to sustain. Men, who leave their country, and lose their all for the sake of their religion, must be supposed to be unbending. The contention, which drove them from home, followed them across the Atlantic ; varied, indeed, in its form, but the same in its nature ; opposed to the same principles, and threatening the same interests. Of the rectitude of these principles, generally, they had every reason to be satisfied; and of the value of these interests they had strong, and even noble, conceptions. They watched both, therefore, with an ardour, which nothing could impair, and a vigilance, which nothing could fatigue. In such circumstances no men would be remiss: and virtuous men could hardly (ail, infirm as our nature is, to be unnecessarily exact.

They have been censured for observing the Sabbath with a Jewish rigour. If this intends, that they re-enacted the Jewish penalties for the non-observance of this sacred day ; the charge is untrue. If it intends, that they regarded the day as sacred, and as required by the Universal Lawgiver to be wholly consecrated to religion, except so far as its hours are demanded for necessary and charitable employments; the charge is true, but ceases to convey a censure. In this there is nothing rigid; unless we choose to attribute rigidness to the Creator: for it is nothing more than He has required. The creed of these men was in substance the same with that of your own Church, and that of the Protestant Churches generally. By those Churches, therefore, it will not be censured. To the doctrines and duties, involved in it, they adhered, I acknowledge, with a strictness not very common. In some particulars they were unnecessarily exact: and in some others perhaps less catholic, than the most enlightened spirit of the Gospel would dictate. At the same time, a strict adherence to the commands of God, and the duties of religion, even when attended with some disagreeable peculiarities, cannot fail to receive both the respect and the applause, of every virtuous man.

The Settlers of New-England have been also censured for adopting, to a considerable extent, the municipal law of the Jews, Justice demands that they be acquitted from all intention of making the Jewish law their own permanent system of regulations. That they had no apprehension of any obligation, under which themselves, or other christians, lay to obey this law, as their own civil code, is evident from the fact, that they departed from it, immediately, to a great extent; and afterwards varied from it still farther, as their own circumstances required. They reverenced it, indeed, as christians feel themselves bound to reverence every Institution of God. At the same time, the mildness and humanity, so conspicuous in many of its regulations, recommended it strongly to their esteem and attachment. To lessen the number of human actions, of which death is made the retribution, from one hundred to fourteen must have been a delightful employment to a benevolent legislator; and any means, of sufficient authority to give effectual aid in the accomplishment of such a work, must have been welcomed with ardour. The Jewish municipal law was, without a question, designed exclusively to regulate the public concerns of that nation. Still, its great principles of equity are now found in the Statutes of every enlightened people ; and constitute the basis of all its penal regulations. Our Ancestors differed from other civilized people, with respect to this subject, more in professing their design, than in carrying it into execution. They were, perhaps, too fondly attached to the Jewish System; but should not, I think, be deeply censured for this attachment by a nation, which, for some years, has, in its penal code registered one hundred and seventy-six crimes, as objects of capital punishment.

Perhaps you will number, also, their resistance, on various occasions, to the British Government in the list of their faults. That men, who had smarted so severely under that Government in their native Country, should be jealous of its intrusions upon their happiness and safety in this, cannot be thought surprising. At the same time, they came to New-England with a full conviction, that they were subject, so far as their domestic affairs were concerned, to no external jurisdiction, beside that of the British Crown. While they lived in England ; they regarded it, with all other Englishmen, as their native, indefeasible right to be subject to no laws, except those which were made by their own Representatives. When they came to America; they believed themselves, and were often declared by the Crown, to bring with them all the rights of Englishmen; and, of course, this, which was the basis of all others. It is not strange, therefore, that they should mark every invasion of this right! with extreme jealousy, and resist it strenuously with all the means in their power. For myself, I regard this conduct as highly honourable; and cannot easily believe, that it will be censured by any genuine Briton. Where would have been the liberty of your country ; had not the same spirit steadily animated the breasts of its inhabitants ?

That some excesses attended this resistance, at times, cannot be denied. Should you feel disposed to criminate the authors of them with severity, let me request you to turn over the pages of your own history, and see whether you do not find excesses recorded there, equal in number and degree, generated by provocations of no greater magnitude, and vindicablc only on the same principles.

The last charge, which I at present remember, and which has been frequently urged against these Colonists, and, like several others, has been often reiterated on this side of the water, is their abuse of the Aborigines. This charge is derived either from ignorance or injustice. The annals of the world cannot furnish a single instance, in which a nation, or any other body politic, has treated its allies, or its subjects, either with more justice, or more humanity, than the New-England Colonists treated these people. Exclusively of the Country of the Pequods, the inhabitants of Connecticut bought, unless I am deceived, every inch of ground, contained within that Colony, of its native Proprietors. The people of Rhode-Island, Plymouth, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, proceeded wholly in the same equitable manner. Until Philip's war in 1675, not a single foot of ground in New England was claimed, or occupied, by the Colonists on any other score, but that of fair purchase. The war with the Pequods, that with Philip, and that with the Narrhagansetts, were all merely defensive, on the part of the Colonists. The savages were the aggressors in each of them. The Colonists used every hopeful and reasonable measure to avoid them. This you will not question, if you remember, that they dreaded these wars as not improbable means of their own destruction. To the lands of these people the conquerors had the usual right of conquest; with this additional circumstance in their favour, that the original inhabitants almost entirely deserted them. Such of them, as remained, have had lands amply sufficient for their maintenance, secured to them by the laws of the Colonists, down to the present time. Nor were they only secured from intrusion and violence; but also from the purchase, to which themselves would have easily and imprudently yielded, and which would have been accomplished by unprincipled individuals. At the same time, Agents have regularly been appointed for the management of their affairs, who have usually been men of respectability, and have periodically rendered an account of their agency to the Government. These Gentlemen have, in almost all instances, treated the Indians with unimpeachable equity, and with an honourable spirit of benevolence.

The prices, paid for these lands, will necessarily seem to an European who cannot possibly realize the little value of a tract, forming a mere speck in a boundless forest, to have been wholly inadequate; and the result of fraud, and superiour skill, on the part of the purchaser. Nothing is farther from the truth. The land was literally worth no more, than the sum paid for it. Land in America may be advantageously regarded by an European, as having been at the settlement of this Country, like water in his own; valuable in itself; but too abundant to become the subject of price. The present value of lands, here, does not ordinarily exceed that of the labour, which has been employed on them.

I have now recited all the chief topics of accusation against the Colonists of New-England. You will, I think, cheerfully agree with me, that there are not many communities, of which a fair portrait would present fewer disagreeable features.

I am Sir, yours, &c.

Excellencies of the Colonists of New-England ; viz. their Enterprise and Industry —their love of Science and Learning—their love of Liberty—their Morality— their Piety.:
Dear Sir,

It can scarcely be called fair dealing, for a writer, when giving the character of a people, to recite their faults, without exhibiting at the same time their good qualities. You will permit me, therefore, to perform this part of my duty in a summary manner.

The Enterprise of the original Colonists is sufficiently conspicuous in the story, already told of their first settlement in this country; and may be much more perfectly seen in the ampler accounts of that undertaking given by Neal, Governour Hutchinson, Mr. Prince, Dr. Trumbull, Dr. Belknap, Dr. Morse, Dr. Holmes, and Tarious others. A more hardy effort, begun with more discouraging prospects, and executed with smaller means, more unruffled patience, and more immoveable perseverance, has rarely been made by man. There is no account in the annals of Colonization, in which the principal actors have left fewer memorials behind them, calculated to awaken the regret of mankind, or to call forth a blush on the faces of their descendants; or more fitted to command the admiration, and applause of both. No sober New-Englander can read the history of his country, without rejoicing, that God has caused him to spring from the loins of such Ancestors, and given him his birth in a country, whose public concerns were entrusted to their management.

The same enterprising character, justice obliges me to say, has been exhibited by their descendants, of every generation. Their efforts against the Pequods; Philip and his associates; the Narrhagansetts ; the Canadian French; the Island of Cape Breton ; and the British forces at Lexington, Breed's Hill, Stillwater, and elsewhere; were such, as any nation in similar circumstances would be proud to see written on the pages of its own history. Of them all it is an honourable characteristic, that not one was undertaken for purposes of revenge, plunder, or victory; but merely from necessity, and self-defence: a necessity, created by their adversaries ; a self-defence, on which they could with confidence ask the blessing of God. By what other people can this be said ?

A Gentleman of great respectability in the State of New-York, and of Dutch extraction too, being asked in a late critical period by a circle of his friends, what measures he would advise them to take, replied, "Go with the people of New-England. So far as I can find, God has never forsaken that country."

Were you an American; and had you with me traversed the several settlements, made by the people of New-England in its immense forests ; had you traced the hardships, and discouragements, with which these settlements were made ; had you seen the wilderness converted by them into fruitful fields; had you surveyed the numerous, cheerful, and beautiful towns and villages, which under their forming hand have sprung up in a desert; you would regard this mighty work as an unanswerable, and delightful, proof of both the Enterprise, and the Industry, of this extraordinary people.

Nor is their Enterprise less conspicuous in their commercial undertakings.
The spirit of commerce was brought to this country in the ship, which wafted the first settlers of Plymouth over the Atlantic. Trade was opened by them with the Indians the first summer after their arrival. From that period to the present it has been regularly extended; so that ships from New-England have, for a considerable time, visited every commercial part of the globe. They catch whales in the Southern Atlantic, and in (.he Southern Pacific, as well as in the seas of Greenland. They carry to China seal-skins from Massafuero, sea-otters from Nootka sound, and sandal wood from the Sandwich Islands. I have seen a sloop, of no great size, which has circumnavigated the globe; and a ship, which has performed this navigation three times.

All these facts prove their Industry, no less than their Enterprise.

Their love of Science and Learning, is amply evinced by the fact, that they have established parochial schools at such near distances, as to give every child in this country, except in very recent settlements, an ample opportunity of acquiring the Knowledge of reading, writing, and Arithmetic: a work, which cost the people of Scotland the labours of a century. Yet the schools of Scotland are far less numerous, less conveniently disposed, and less liberally endowed. Grammar schools, also, they established in all their towns, containing one hundred families. A College they founded at Cambridge in 1638: about eight years after the first landing of the Massachusetts colony. Another was proposed in Connecticut; and another in New-Haven, then a distinct colony, not long after. But both were given up from an apprehension, that the whole country was barely sufficient to support one : an apprehension, undoubtedly well founded. Since that period, their descendants have founded seven others: Yale College, at NeW-Haven in Connecticut; Dartmouth College, at Hanover in New-Hampshire ; Brown College, or, University, at Providence in Rhode-Island; Williams College, at Williamstown in Massachusetts ; Bowdoin College, at Brunswick in the District of Maine ; a College at Middlebury, and another at Burlington, both in Vermont. In these seminaries there are regularly more than eight hundred students. In addition to this, they have established 3. great number of Academies ; schools of a superiour character ; where students are fitted for the Colleges, or receive an English education, of a higher cast than that, which can be obtained at the parochial schools. These things, it is presumed, cannot be said of any country, of the same wealth and population.

Their Love of Liberty will not be questioned. It ought to be observed, that they are the only people on this continent, who originally understood, and have ever since maintained, the inseparable connection between Liberty and good order;
or who practically knew, that genuine freedom is found only beneath the undisturbed dominion of equitable laws.

The Morality of these people may be fairly estimated from the following facts. There have been fewer capital crimes committed in New-England since its settlement, than in any other country on the globe, (Scotland perhaps excepted,) in proportion to the number of its inhabitants. Half, or two thirds, of these inhabitants sleep, at the present time, without barring or locking their doors. Not more than five duels have been fought here, since the landing of the Plymouth Colony. During the Revolutionary War, although party-spirit rose to the highest pitch, and although New-England contained at that time about one million of people, but one man suffered death by the hand of violence, and one more, by the decision of a Court of Justice. During the last fourteen years, I have travelled not far from twelve thousand miles, chiefly in New-England and New-York; and in this extensive progress have never seen two men employed in fighting. Nor do I remember more than one instance of this nature, which fell under my own eye, during my life. That many such have happened, I cannot doubt. But, had they been frequent, they must, I think, have occurred at times, when I was present: for I have not lived in a cloister.

Of the Piety of the New-England people their accusers have furnished abundant evidence. Change the words Superstition, Fanaticism, Enthusiasm, and Bigotry, into Piety; (the thing almost invariably meant by them all;) and you will find from their enemies themselves ample testimony, that the objects of their calumny were distinguished for this superiour kind of excellence. The numerous Churches in this country, a great part of them good, and many of them handsome, buildings, are a strong illustration of the spirit of the inhabitants concerning the subject of Religion. The number of these structures already exceeds fourteen hundred; and is annually increasing. In almost every part of the country, except where the settlements are quite new, they are found at the distances of five, six and seven miles; and with their handsome spires and cupolas, almost universally white, add an exquisite beauty to the landscape, and perpetually refresh the eye of a traveller.

I have now given you both sides of this subject; and, if I mistake not, without an intention to enhance either. Having the picture before you, with its light and shade, your own taste must determine concerning the beauty, and deformity of the features.

Yours, &c.

On New Haven:
The slate of Society in this Town is, I think, remarkably happy. The inhabitants, taken together, are not inferiour to those of any town, with which I am acquainted, in intelligence, refinement, morals, or religion. Both sexes are, to a great extent, well informed ; much less ceremonious, and perhaps somewhat less polished, but not less refined, than those of the larger cities in this country. Their morals, at the same time, are of a superiour cast; and their religion much more predominant. A general spirit of good neighbourhood prevails among all classes, which nothing, hitherto, has seriously interrupted. An extensive revival of religion, within a few years past, has added not a little to the pleasures, furnished by society in New-Haven. The Churches are regularly full: and an interest is apparently felt in the concerns of religion, which cannot fail of being grateful to the mind of a good man. Rarely is a more beautiful object presented to the eye ; (I have never met with one;) than the multitudes, crossing the Green in different directions to the House of God. A general softness and civility of manners also prevails among the inhabitants of every class. Their hospitality is honourable to them ; and is not excelled in New-England, unless in some of the towns along the Eastern shore of Massachusetts.

Few places in the world present a fairer example of peace, and good order. Disturbances are unknown. Even private contentions scarcely exist. I recollect but a single instance, in which a store, and not one, in which a house, has been broken open during the fifteen years, in which I have resided in this town.* This good order of the inhabitants is the more creditable to them, as the police of the town is far from being either vigorous, or exact.


Hail said...

Half, or two thirds, of [New England's] inhabitants sleep, at the present time [1810s], without barring or locking their doors.


Not more than five duels have been fought here, since the landing of the Plymouth Colony.

Let's quantify that. One source has it that 139 duels were recorded on U.S. soil, 1775-1810.

White population, USA [xls]
1790: 3.17 million
1800: 4.31 million
1810: 5.86 million

White population, New England [xls]
1790: 0.99 million [31.2% of nation]
1800: 1.21 million [28.1%]
1810: 1.45 million [24.7%]

If the "no more than five New-England duels" is true, then from 1775-1810:

1.) New-England had a maximum duelling rate of ~5 per million, probably less. [This assumes all N.E. duels were 1775-1810].

2.) The rest of the USA had a duelling rate of ~62-64 per million.

Hail said...

Not more than five duels have been fought here, since the landing of the Plymouth Colony.

If true, that is amazing.

One source has it that 139 duels were recorded on U.S. soil, 1775-1810.

White population, USA [xls]
1790: 3.17 million
1800: 4.31 million
1810: 5.86 million

White population, New England [xls]
1790: 0.99 million [31.2% of nation]
1800: 1.21 million [28.1%]
1810: 1.45 million [24.7%]

If the "no more than five New-England duels" is true, then from 1775-1810:

1.) New-England had a maximum duelling rate of ~5 per million, almost certainly less. [This assumes all N.E. duels 1600-1810 were in the 1775-1810 period].

2.) The rest of the USA had a duelling rate of ~62-64 per million.

3.) The aristocrats of Europe had far higher rates of duelling, though they rarely ending in death.

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