England and the New Found Land

Thomas Morton, New English Canaan or New Canaan. Amsterdam: J. F. Stam, 1637.  Acquired 1942 (A 1637 .M67)

This work, written by one of the Puritans’ chief antagonists, is perhaps the best contemporary account of early New England. In 1622 Morton helped found an Indian trading post north of the new Plymouth Colony. Worried that he was supplying Indians with guns, and horrified by maypole revels witnessed at Morton’s “Ma-re-Mount” settlement, Pilgrims led by Miles Standish captured Morton and sent him back to England. Fifteen years of feuding ensued, during which Morton published this salvo. Of particular value are Morton’s vivid descriptions of the Massachusetts landscape, flora and fauna, and the Indians’ way of life.

Anne Bradstreet, The Tenth Muse lately sprung up in America London: Printed for Stephen Bowtell, 1650.  Original McGregor Library (A 1650 .B73)

In 1630 18-year-old Anne Bradstreet arrived in Massachusetts in the initial wave of Puritan migration. Twenty years later her poems were published in London to favorable reviews in this, the first poetry collection authored by an American. Bradstreet’s poetry reflects her extensive reading and command of history. In “A Dialogue Between Old England and New,” composed in 1642, Bradstreet contrasts the political and religious strife that afflicted England during its descent into civil war—compelling her family’s emigration—with the promise of New England’s reformed society.

At the Town-House in Boston: April 18th. 1689. Sir, Our selves as well as many others the inhabitants of this town and places adjacent ... judge it necessary that you forthwith surrender, and deliver up the government … Boston: Samuel Green, 1689.  Original McGregor Library (Broadside 1689 .M28)

In December 1686, Sir Edmund Andros arrived in Boston to govern the new Dominion of New England. Reasserting English control over its colonies, Andros revoked privileges of self-government long enjoyed by New Englanders. Protestors issued this broadside calling for Andros’s surrender. When news arrived on April 18, 1689, that King James II had been deposed, a Boston mob arrested Andros’s subordinates and restored the old provincial government. He ignored the request, only to be captured and sent back to England. Andros’s later tenure as governor of Virginia was more successful.

Adriaen van der Donck, Beschryvinge van Nieuw-Nederlant Amsterdam: Evert Nieuwenhof, 1656.  Original McGregor Library (A 1656 .D64)

Van der Donck resided for a decade in present-day Albany and the Bronx before conflicts with Governor Peter Stuyvesant prompted his return to Amsterdam. There he published the best contemporary account of the New Netherland Colony founded by the Dutch in 1609 and ceded to the British in 1664. The extensive descriptions of the Hudson River Valley and its Indian inhabitants helped spark a new wave of Dutch settlement. The McGregor Library holds both the first edition (1655) and the 1656 reprint, to which was added this finely engraved map and view of New Amsterdam at Manhattan’s southern tip.

William Penn, Some account of the province of Pennsilvania in America London: Benjamin Clark, 1681.  Original McGregor Library (A 1681-1683 .P45 no. 1)

In 1681 King Charles II settled a large debt by granting William Penn a vast tract of land comprising present-day Pennsylvania. Penn quickly issued this prospectus directed at those who “may be disposed to Transport themselves or Servants into” his new colony. To the brief description of “Pennsilvania,” Penn added a lengthy rationale for emigration and a list of personal qualities that make a good settler. Freedom of religion and guarantees of those liberties denied to Quakers in England are not mentioned in this pamphlet, though they are promised in subsequent tracts.

George Keith, New-England's Spirit of Persecution Transmitted To Pennsilvania [New York: William Bradford], 1693.
Original McGregor Library (A 1693 .K45)

In 1685 William Bradford emigrated from London and set up shop as Pennsylvania’s first printer. He soon chafed under the rules restricting what could be printed. Matters came to a head in 1692 when Bradford was charged with printing seditious works penned by Quaker controversialist George Keith. The trial ended in a hung jury, and Bradford accepted an invitation to resettle in New York as its first printer. Bradford’s initial New York publication was yet another Keith tract, shown here. It contains a transcript of Bradford’s trial, which prefigured the more famous 1735 trial for libel of his apprentice, John Peter Zenger.