Sunday, March 20, 2011

War funding

Now that we're involved in yet another war, I assume we'll be cutting taxes again to pay for it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Son of Maximum Massachusetts

Newport, Nova Anglia
15 April 1761

The Reverend Ezra Stiles, pastor of Newport's Second Congregational Church, was delighted with the turn of events. He was always a very sociable man, maintaining friendships with people of all stations and creeds (even Samuel Hopkins, the dour pastor of Newport's First Congregational Church). The Reverend Samuel Mather of the First Congregational Church of Charlestown had finally accepted his invitation to visit Newport and preach a sermon at Stiles' church on the 19th of April.

Stiles was down at the Long Wharf on the morning of the 15th waiting for Mather's ship to dock. Not being a tall man, Stiles had some difficulty seeing past the other sightseers gathered there. That was all right. Stiles found the docks, with their constant activity and heterogeneous population, to be utterly fascinating. He often thought to himself that the docks were Newport, that everything that made the city so interesting and invigorating could be found in distilled form at the docks. Here were ships from all over the world, unloading cargoes from Europe, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Orient. And the men who sailed on the ships were as variegated as their cargoes: Frenchmen, Portuguese, Dutchmen, Moors, Negroes, Jews, and countless more.

Finally Stiles caught a glimpse of his man. Like his father (and like Stiles himself), Mather was a small man, scarcely more than Stiles's own five foot two. He had clear blue eyes set in a round, amiable face, a powdered wig, and a simple black cloak. Stiles managed to make his way through the crowd to meet Mather as he was shuffling up the wharf with a bag clutched in his hands.

"My dear Mr. Mather," Stiles greeted him among the shifting crowd, "it is a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance!"

"Mr. Stiles? Thank you, the pleasure is entirely mine," Mather said, setting down his bag for a moment to shake hands.

"Come this way," said Stiles, "I have a coach waiting to take you to my house."

"You are too kind, sir," protested Mather.

"Not at all, sir, not at all."

As the coach made its slow way through the crowds on Queen Street, Mather expressed astonishment at its plush interior. He said, "I had no idea the church was doing so well here."

Stiles chuckled. "I fear that we're not doing so well that the church can afford to provide its pastor with such a fine conveyance. This coach actually belongs to Aaron Lopez, a leading citizen of our town, who insisted upon loaning it to me when he learned of my errand this morning."

"A Jew?" said Mather, faintly scandalized.

"And he isn't even charging me interest," Stiles chuckled again. "They're a fascinating people. You ought to visit their new synagogue on Griffin Street. A local Anglican named Peter Harrison designed it, and the result is quite splendid." Seeing disapproval on Mather's face, Stiles continued, "We may no longer be a separate colony, but the old traditions still run strong here, and the oldest of all is freedom of conscience."

"They still reject Christ. They are still infidels."

"Are they? They still keep a covenant with God that goes back thousands of years."

"Keeping the covenant is not enough, not since Christ died and was reborn."

"We look at things differently here in Newport. After all, how could a just God unilaterally change the terms of a contract? No respectable merchant would accept such a thing. Ergo, it must stand to reason that if the Jews still abide by their covenant, then God is obliged to honor its terms, notwithstanding any subsequent agreements he may have made with other peoples."

Stiles could tell by Mather's expression that he found the Newporter's logic unconvincing. Deftly changing the subject, Stiles said, "Speaking of infidels, what think you of the results of the recent elections to the Common Estate in France?"

"I found them to be rather predictable. The people have tired of Voltaire's reforms. They seek stability, and the Conservatives offer them stability. Of course, should they attempt to actually repeal his reforms, they will soon find themselves out of power again. France wants a breathing space, not a reaction."

"The question is whether the Conservatives themselves understand this."

"Quesnay might," Mather allowed. "He'll have the devil of a time trying to restrain some of his more extreme colleagues. They'll be champing at the bits, seeking to close down Philosophe newspapers and abolish the Popular Academies. However, I trust that..." Mather's voice trailed off as he caught sight of something outside the coach.

Stiles glanced out the window, then nodded to himself. The coach had crossed Thames Street and entered Ann Street, and Mather had just caught sight of the statue.

Standing on a plinth at the intersections of Ann, Queen and Thames was a statue, twice life size, of Mather's insurrectionist father. One hand was held up in greeting, the other held a Bible and a feathered Indian war bonnet. On the plinth was inscribed the words DR. COTTON MATHER 1663-1716 "Blood for Blood, Guilt for Innocence."

When they had finally left the statue behind, and Mather returned his attention to his host, he said, "What an astonishing thing."

"As I was saying," Stiles responded, "we look at things differently here in Newport. In fact, they used to call Rhode Island the place 'where people think otherwise'. I've mentioned in my letters how highly your father is regarded here."

"I thought you were simply trying to be kind. I had no idea."

"You must remember, we got off very lightly compared to Massachusetts after the war, due in no small measure to Governor Cranston's efforts in London. Consequently, the Commonwealth is remembered with a certain fondness here." Stiles cast a conspiratorial glance out into the street. "Truth be told, we still celebrate Independence Day every June 17th, but don't tell Governor-General Braddock.

"You may not know of it, but your father has become a legendary figure here in Newport. All sorts of tales are told concerning his abduction by the French, his missionary work among the Indians, even his escape from the Boston Fire. And every September 1st we hold memorial services in the churches, when we recite his last words on Gallows Hill. If we were Papists, we would probably consider your father the patron saint of New England."

Seeing Mather's slight start, Stiles said, "I know, we're only supposed to call it Nova Anglia now, but in the privacy of their homes, and their hearts, the people still say New England."

The coach turned off of Ann Street onto Clarke Street, and the Second Church came into view. Stiles continued to speak. "Your father's last wish was that God's grace might return to New England. It is a prayer that has been repeated every day since then. All of us here in Newport, Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers, Jews, even the Anglicans, pray that his sacrifice, and those made by our people since then, will bring salvation to our country.

"I tell you all this so that you may know what to expect this coming Sunday when you preach at the Second Church. The congregation will expect your sermon to touch upon your father's final words, and upon the meaning they hold in the present day."

The Reverend Samuel Mather looked up into the looming face of the Second Church as the coach passed beneath its shadow.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Maximum Massachusetts 18: Full Circle

Salem, Massachusetts
1 September 1716

The Reverend Dr. Cotton Mather found his memory drawn irresistably back to the morning of August 19, 1692. On that day he had watched as John Proctor, George Jacobs Sr., John Willard, George Burroughs and Martha Corey were taken from the gaol at Salem town and hanged from Gallows Hill west of town as witches. Burroughs had recited the Lord's Prayer and made a moving speech from the gallows ladder protesting his innocence, and many of those present had been vocal in their opposition to the hangings. Mather himself, sitting astride a horse, had set aside his own doubts and responded by reciting the evidence produced in the court against Burroughs, the integrity and worthiness of the judges who had tried Burroughs, and the assurance that Burroughs and the others all died by a righteous sentence.

After the traditional hearty breakfast, Mather was escorted from the gaol at Salem town by a squad of red-coated soldiers from one of the regiments currently occupying Massachusetts. The Duke of Marlborough, military governor of New England, was too busy overseeing the administration of the newly-subdued colonies to leave his headquarters in Charles Town. In his place, he had sent a regimental artillery commander, Colonel King. King, astride a horse of his own, watched in silence as the soldiers lifted Mather up into the cart that would convey him to his fate.

Twenty-four years earlier, crowds had gathered from miles away to watch the condemned witches hang. They had followed the prisoners' cart to Gallows Hill jeering and yelling, throwing rocks and rotten fruit at the five. Mather couldn't help but be pleased to see an even larger crowd come to see his own hanging. The sin of pride had been Mather's constant companion throughout life, and now it would accompany him to his death.

Mather had never liked noisy crowds. He had found the mob at the witch hangings unpleasant, and much appreciated the relative calm of the spectators of his own demise. There were a few shouted insults, but most of the people present seemed content to remain silent as they accompanied Mather's cart along the rutted trail to Gallows Hill. The soldiers guarding the cart seemed indifferent to the events around them, talking quietly with each other about where the cheapest food might be found, which of the women in the crowd might make suitable paramours, and when they might expect to be sent back to England. Colonel King maintained his silence, and seemed to be directing most of his attention to the crowd rather than Mather himself, as if suspecting them of plotting to overwhelm himself and his soldiers and set Mather free. Mather hoped that no such thing would happen, for Massachusetts was suffering privation enough as it was, and an uprising on his behalf would only make matters worse.

In a way, it was a pity he had to die now, for the whole world seemed to be in an uproar, and he would never learn the outcome of any of it. Governor Hunter of New York had led a regiment of his colony's militia into western Connecticut, and petitioned Marlborough for permission to annex the area to his own colony. The colonial charters of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts had all been revoked, and the three were to be combined into a single crown colony called Nova Anglia. The Royal Navy had taken the French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean, and the French outposts of Pondicherry and Karikal in India. In Europe, the losses incurred in the war had bankrupted the French government, and the young king's regent, Phillipe d'Orleans, had been forced to summon the Estates-General for the first time in a century.

Mather's thoughts on the state of the world came to a disjointed halt, along with rest of the party escorting his cart, when they came within sight of Gallows Hill and found over a hundred Indians waiting there. King's soldiers quickly formed themselves into a short line of battle, and a general babble rose from the crowd. Then one of the Indians left the assembled group and calmly walked up to face the soldiers and townspeople. Mather recognized him easily. It was the Abenaki sachem Taxous.

Taxous walked up to the mounted Colonel King and said, in fluent English, "I wish to speak with Dr. Mather."

Colonel King looked down at Taxous, looked over at the assembled mass of braves, looked over at his own half dozen troops, then looked back at Taxous. He finally spoke the first words Mather had heard from him that morning. "I'll take you to him."

King did so, and Mather found himself looking down from the cart at Taxous.

"I greet you, Crow," the sachem said in Abenaki.

"I greet you, my brother," Mather responded.

"We have heard in our country that the redcoats seek to hang you."

"You have heard truly, my brother. They do seek to hang me, and rightly so, for I rose up against the rule of the Great White Mother in London."

"If you give the word, Crow, my people will fight the redcoats and free you, for you have brought understanding of the True God to us, and you have also brought peace between us and the English, and we would not see you taken from us."

"It gladdens my heart to hear you say these words, my brother, but it cannot be. There would be war again between my people and yours, and the Duke of Marlborough would not rest until your people were dead, all of them. Tomorrow will bring others to teach the Abenaki of the True God, and as for today . . ."

Mather lifted up his eyes into the clear morning sky. There was a fresh breeze blowing from the west, and all the world seemed young in the first hours of the new day. Returning his gaze at last to his friend, Mather finished, "It is a good day to die."

Taxous nodded. "You speak truly, Crow, as always." Shifting back into English, Taxous said to King, "We will stay to watch Dr. Mather die, and then we will go."

King agreed, and Taxous returned to the other Abenaki. King ordered his men to resume their places around the cart, and the procession continued.

Gallows hill was too steep for the cart to climb, so Mather left it and climbed the rest of the way to the oak tree, just as Proctor and Burroughs had climbed it before him. As he stood on the ladder with the noose around his neck, Colonel King read out the charges against him, and the sentence passed. Then he said, "Has the condemned any last words to say before sentence is carried out?"

Mather looked out at the crowd of New Englanders, the small knot of soldiers, and the waiting Indians. "Twenty-four years and thirteen days ago I watched a man named George Burroughs stand on this ladder, with this rope around his neck, and proclaim his innocence to an uncaring mob that included myself. I do not claim, as Burroughs did, to be innocent, for I am not. I am as guilty as he was innocent, for his blood, and the blood of nineteen other men and women are on my hands. I do not care if King George of Hanover and the Duke of Marlborough hang me for treason, for their treason is my patriotism, and I am proud that I rose up against their rule, and would do so again were I given the chance. But the innocent lives of Burroughs and the other nineteen martyrs of Salem remain unredeemed, and it is for them that I dedicate my life this day. Blood for blood, guilt for innocence, so that the crime of Salem, Massachusetts may be expunged, and God's grace may return to New England."

Mather prayed silently to God as the hood was fitted around his head. He heard the executioner climb down the ladder, then felt him kick it away. His last thought was of his father.

(Proceed to Son of Maximum Massachusetts)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Maximum Massachusetts 17: Adrift

Boston, Massachusetts
14 June 1716

The flames of Boston lit up the night as Cotton Mather drifted across the Charles River. The length of wood he clung to had previously been part of the structure of the copper works on Bartons Point before they were destroyed by cannon fire. As such, it was proving wonderfully buoyant. The batteries Marlborough had placed atop Dorchester Heights provided a staccato visual counterpoint to the ruddy light of the burning buildings.

Mather would occasionally lift his head to check his progress across the Charles. At those times he could catch fugitive glimpses of other people trying to escape across the river from the burning city. To his knowledge, there had been no less than ten attempts to storm the barricades Marlborough had erected across Boston Neck, all of them unsuccessful.

From time to time the river carried the sound of musket shots from the direction of Charles Town, as Marlborough's troops fired on any Bostonians they saw trying to come ashore there. All of New England had shuddered last year when they heard stories of the savageries committed by the Hanoverian army in Scotland after the Jacobite rising. Their fears that Marlborough would deal equally sternly with the next set of rebels he encountered were proving prophetic.

An eddy in the current was taking Mather in the direction of Willis Creek. The sound of musket fire had faded with distance. Another brief look around had revealed that Mather was alone. Either the Bostonians had given up trying to flee across the river, or he was the only one the current had taken in this direction. The light of the burning town was also fading with distance, though it was still enough to enable him to make out Lynes Point off on the right.

Mather's thoughts drifted as aimlessly as his transport. He regretted that their prayers for the health of Queen Anne had gone unanswered. Her sin of gluttony had at last found its final punishment, and the British throne had gone to her distant cousin of Hanover. The new king had come to England with Marlborough in his retinue, and when the French had landed three regiments to aid the Jacobite rising in Scotland, the Duke had shown that age had not dimmed his skill at warfare. The Battle of Stockport had left the Jacobite army in tatters, and the Stuart Pretender himself a prisoner. Marlborough had followed the defeated army back to Scotland and left a trail of devastation there, while the Pretender himself had eventually shared his grandfather's fate.

Now the Scourge of Scotland was in Massachusetts, his troops arrayed in a ring around Boston, his warships battering the city from offshore. Boston's own guns had been knocked out one by one, and a steady fusillade had started fires in two dozen different places, until the whole town was a single vast inferno. This, Mather had finally realized, had been Marlborough's plan all along: to utterly destroy Boston, leave it a burned out ruin, as a warning and a lesson to all who dared to rebel against the British Crown.

It was with a feeling of surprise that Mather felt his feet, almost numb with cold, touch solid ground beneath him. Retaining his grip upon the timber, for he feared that he would be unable to remain above water without it, Mather walked slowly up the slope of the submerged riverbank, until he was crawling on his hands and knees up the last few feet to dry land.

Moving as quietly as he could, Mather continued to crawl up the bank away from the Charles. He was, he guessed, somewhere between the mouth of Willis Creek and the mill pond. He was hidden from sight by a low cover of underbrush. As his body grew accustomed once more to movement on dry land, Mather forced himself to his feet and began walking furtively among the brambles. At the moment, the only plan he could formulate was to somehow make his way north to the Abenaki country. Unseen behind him, the city of Boston continued to burn.

(Proceed to part 18 - Full Circle)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Maximum Massachusetts 16: The Rich White Guy Insurrection

Boston, Massachusetts
8 July 1714

The Reverend Dr. Cotton Mather smiled at his guest. "How do you take your tea, General Hill?"

"One lump, no milk." Jack Hill replied.

"Thank you, my dear," said Mather as his wife Elizabeth poured the general his tea and added two lumps of sugar.

"You're too kind," said Hill. "Any idea how dear sugar has become in London?"

"We get our sugar directly from the islands," Mather explained.

"Dashed rummy business, if you ask me," Hill grumbled. "Trading with the French."

"Independence has done wonders for our commerce," said Mather serenely. "Now we trade with the French, the Dutch, even the Spanish. And no Navigation Acts to obey."

"Not that you colonials ever obeyed 'em anyway."

"My merchant colleague Andrew Belcher has invented the most astonishing rationale for circumventing commercial regulations. He has even written a pamphlet on the subject which he calls Free Minds & Free Trade."

General Hill glared at his host. "Free trade! You may pretty it up with sweet-sounding words, but the truth is you're nothing more than a mob of Puritan Guy Fawkeses. Rich, white Guy Fawkeses!"

"Wasn't Fawkes himself white?" asked Mather, curious.

"Gads, no, the feller was Spanish! Don't they teach you colonials anything in those colleges of yours?"

Irked, Mather responded with, "There is a growing body of opinion here in Boston that Fawkes might have had the right idea. And we didn't bother to celebrate Gunpowder Treason Day last year."

"Doesn't surprise me a bit," said Hill. "Too busy committing treason yourselves. Well you lot go ahead and enjoy yourselves while you can. It won't be too long before England reaches out and swats you like flies."

Mather had enough good grace to forebear mentioning the fate of the expedition Hill himself had lately commanded for that very purpose. Or the fact that Hill was currently on parole while waiting to be exchanged for a captured French general. Instead, he said, "Have you had any news recently from your sister at court?"

"Abigail, you mean? God bless her! Her and Queen Anne are thick as thieves. Wasn't for her, I wouldn't have been given this command, you know."

"Then we must all give thanks to God for your sister's place in court," said Mather.

"Here, here!" Hill exclaimed, raising his cup in salute. "I say, that's dashed decent of you, Dr. Mather. I'll have to write to Abby and tell her you said so."

"Not at all, General," said Mather. "Simply doing what any good Christian would do."

Hill, his good humor restored, said, "Matter of fact, I got a letter from her last week. Says the Queen's gout has been acting up again lately. Poor woman has been confined to bed for a month. Abby says they've all been praying for her health."

"You may inform your sister that we in Boston also wish the Queen a long and healthy life, and hope that she will continue to let herself be guided by your sister's good counsel."

"Well, put, Dr. Mather, well put! Be a dashed shame to see you hanged after all this is done. Maybe Abby can put in a good word for you. Get your sentence commuted to life imprisonment or transportation or something. Don't know where they'd transport you to, though. After all, you're already in America!"

"Perhaps they can find a new continent for the purpose," suggested Mather.

(Proceed to part 17 - Adrift)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Maximum Massachusetts 15: The Devil You Don't Know

Boston, Massachusetts
4 August 1713

The Reverend Dr. Cotton Mather was with the Governor's Council at their weekly meeting when Sgt. Collins knocked at the door of the Council Chamber.

"Yes, Sergeant," said Governor Dudley, "what is it?"

"Sir," said Collins, "there's a man here who claims to be an emissary from your son Paul."

"Bring him in, Sergeant."

After leading an army to conquer Quebec in 1706, Dudley had appointed his son Paul Deputy-Governor of Canada. Paul had managed to rule the conquered province for seven years without provoking the French into rising up and overthrowing him, which was three years longer than his father had managed as Deputy-Governor of Massachusetts in the 1680s. Mather supposed that this served as a sort of testimonial to the son's virtues as an administrator.

Mather immediately revised his opinion of Paul's capability when Sgt. Collins escorted in the boy's "emissary." It was Pierre Le Moyne, sieur d'Iberville.

Le Moyne, for his part, smiled when his eyes met those of his former captive. D'Iberville was getting on in years (as were they all, alas), and the hair beneath his wig had gone from black with gray streaks to gray with white streaks. He still seemed fit, though (unfairly, Mather felt, since he himself had never been fit, even as a youth). Although d'Iberville had certainly taken ship from Quebec, Mather didn't doubt that the man could hike overland from Quebec to Boston in the dead of winter if he wished. The Canadian greeted Mather with, "Ah, Monsieur Arrateek, it seems that fate has allowed our paths to cross yet again."

"That's Doctor Heretic to you, d'Iberville," Mather responded.

"But of course," d'Iberville chuckled, "how could I forget your so-greatly-deserved honorary Doctorate of Divinity from the renowned University of Glasgow?"

"If I might interrupt this joyous reunion," said Dudley acidly, "I believe you mentioned a message from my son."

"Yes, my Governor, there is official business to be conducted. I fear the Good Doctor and I must postpone our celebration until later. To business, then.

"I carry on my person, Monsieur le Governor, a letter to you from your son outlining a proposal from Capitaine Denys de la Ronde of Quebec. I must confess before you all that when I first learned of your intention of declaring yourselves independent of Great Britain lest you be compelled to return New France to her rightful sovereign, I was overcome with anger. I felt that we of Quebec must rise up against you and fight to regain our rightful place under the beneficent gaze of His Christian Majesty Louis XIV. However, when I spoke to the good Capitaine of my desire, he was able to dissuade me by setting forth his own proposal. Monsieur Denys de la Ronde, in brief, proposes an alliance between the Kingdom of France and your Commonwealth of New-England, said alliance to be contingent upon your agreeing to restore Canada to French rule. In return for the restoration of Canada, His Christian Majesty will grant official recognition to your republic, and agree to a military alliance between our two states in the event of war with Great Britain."

"This is preposterous!" exlaimed Elisha Cooke. "The whole point of our revolution was to prevent the return of Canada to France. Why in God's name should we then turn around and do the very thing we are trying to avoid?"

Although Mather agreed with Cooke, the argumentarian within him compelled him to find an opposing rationale to offer. "The point of our revolution," he said, "was to prevent the alienation of a dependent territory of our colony without our consent. It is quite another matter if we ourselves choose to make such an alteration of its status. In addition, the Crown proposed to transform Canada from a subject territory into an enemy territory, thus effecting the re-creation of a former threat to our colony's existence. In the proposal now under consideration, Canada is to be transformed from a subject territory into an allied territory, thus effecting the creation of a friendly power where none existed previously."

"Are you saying that you approve of this outlandish notion?" said Cooke.

"Not at all," said Mather. "I was simply pointing out that the idea is not as preposterous as you make it out to be. I might also point out that in the light of my recent unsuccessful venture in New York, it is clear that our fledgeling Commonwealth is currently notably lacking in potential allies, and sooner or later the Crown is bound to take notice of our present unfilial behavior and attempt a resort to arms to remedy the situation."

"A fair assessment," said Dudley, "if verbosely expressed. The Commonwealth of New-England now stands alone against the might of an empire. We need help, and there are precious few places from which help might come. I know it will seem strange to seek that help from France of all places, but we must try to remember that our interests as a soveriegn state differ from our interests as a British colony. Our original aim was to keep Canada friendly, and d'Iberville's proposal allows us to do so. Our current aim is to ensure the survival of our Commonwealth, and d'Iberville's proposal allows us to do that as well. Gentlemen, I am inclined to accept. What say you?"

"I still say it is preposterous," said Cooke. "I say nay."

"Madness," Dr. Thomas Oakes echoed. "I say nay as well."

"I think the proposal offers us hope, and without it we have none," said Andrew Belcher, an old ally of Dudley's. "I say aye."

Arthur Lawson, another ally of Dudley's simply said, "Aye."

One by one, the members of the Council made their thoughts known, until the vote stood at six and six. At last, all those present were looking at Dr. Mather, who had remained silent throughout.

Mather himself had eyes only for his old nemesis d'Iberville. The Canadian's expression was gleeful, as well it might be. Whether you win or lose, his eyes said to Mather, we will be free of you.

"What say you, Dr. Mather?" said Dudley.

Mather considered for a moment. Should they keep France in the familiar role of enemy, or permit her the unfamiliar role of ally?

"In this case, I think, better the Devil you don't know," he answered. "I say aye."

(Proceed to part 16 - The Rich White Guy Insurrection)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Maximum Massachusetts 14: Cotton Comes to Haarlem

New Haarlem, Manhattan Island
11 July 1713

Colonel Pieter Schuyler was a member of the Council of New York's Governor Robert Hunter. He had also, as an officer of the colony's militia, been part of the army New York sent north to take Montreal in the summer of 1706. Cotton Mather had made his acquaintance during the negotiations for Quebec's surrender, and the two men had discovered a mutual interest in astronomy. Mather had extended to Schuyler an open invitation to make use of the telescope at Harvard College should he ever make a visit to Boston. Schuyler had responded with an open invitation for Mather to stay at his farm in New Haarlem should he ever make a visit to New York.

Cotton had finally taken Schuyler up on his offer, and the two men were spending a Saturday afternoon walking through the latter's apple orchard. The conversation had in time turned to the terms of the recently-arrived peace treaty ending Queen Anne's War.

"As you can well imagine," said Schuyler, "there was much astonishment and a deal of outrage when it was learned that Canada and Louisbourg were to be returned to French rule. I daresay it was the same in Boston."

"It was," Mather confirmed. "There were even some who suggested that we ought to ignore the provisions of the treaty, and keep Canada as we kept Acadia after the last war."

Schuyler shook his head. "A worthy dream, but a dream nonetheless. The Queen's ministers in London will not brook such defiance from mere colonials such as ourselves. However dearly it may cost us, we cannot hope to hold onto Canada."

The two men were silent for a time, and then Mather asked, "What do you suppose would happen if Governor Dudley did in fact refuse to return Canada to the French?"

"Then Governor Dudley would shortly find himself escorted back to London by a company of soldiers to answer to Bolingbroke for his impertinence."

"And suppose Governor Dudley were to resist being escorted back to London?"

Schuyler's expression made plain his uneasiness over this line of questioning. "Then Governor Dudley would be in a state of rebellion against the Crown, and the full might of Great Britain would be brought to bear against him."

"And suppose the full might of Massachusetts were brought to bear in support of Dudley? And that of New Hampshire, Nova Scotia, Rhode Island and Connecticut as well?"

Now Schuyler came to a halt, the afternoon sun lighting his hardening features. "Just what is it that you mean to say, Dr. Mather?"

"I mean to say that we in Massachusetts have resolved to defy the Queen and her ministers. Canada is not theirs to offer up. It is ours, and we intend to keep it. And if the Queen and her ministers refuse to recognize our claim, and attempt a resort to arms to compel us, then we will not hesitate to declare our independence of Great Britain."

"Are you mad, sir?"

"Utterly mad, sir, yes. If Bolingbroke is mad enough to return Canada to the French, then he drives us to equal heights of madness to prevent it. The return of Canada to the French would be the ruination of our colony, and sooner than remain passive, we would rise up and risk an equal ruination at the hands of Great Britain for the chance, however slight, of keeping what is ours."

A dawning suspicion showed in Schuyler's face. "Is this the reason for your journey here to New York? You wish us to join you in your rush to destruction?"

"There is strength in numbers," said Mather. "The men of Connecticut and Rhode Island felt as we feel about the treaty. It would be madness to allow the French to regain Canada, and any risk is worth essaying if we can prevent such a disaster. You yourself said there was outrage here in New York when the terms of the treaty were learned. Your colony has suffered as much as New England from the depredations of the French. Would your people be willing to join with us in defying Bolingbroke? Will you become part of our Commonwealth of New England?"

"Some might wish it," said Schuyler, "but New York is not Massachusetts. Our leading men would not support a movement for independence. Governor Hunter would stand against it, and the Assembly would stand with him. There is no way you will ever persuade New Yorkers to rebel against the Crown."

Schuyler's features softened. "I understand your reasons for doing this, my friend, and I wish you well. If you succeed, you will prevent a terrible disaster from overcoming America. But you cannot count on any help from New York. The best you can hope for is our neutrality in your upcoming struggle, and I cannot guarantee even that."

"Your words are hard, my friend," said Mather, "but truly spoken, and for that I thank you. I must leave on the morrow, to tell my colleagues in Boston that we must face this coming crisis alone."

(Proceed to part 15 - The Devil You Don't Know)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Maximum Massachusetts 13: Trick or Treaty

Boston, Massachusetts
17 June 1713

Sir Joseph Dudley, Governor of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Nova Scotia and Canada, read through the newly-arrived copy of the Treaty of Utrecht a second time, but the words were still just the same.

"Collins!" he called out, and in response his aide, Sergeant Philip Collins of the Massachusetts colonial militia, entered the governor's chambers.

"Yessir?" said Collins.

"Send word out to the Council that there's to be an emergency meeting at four o'clock this afternoon." Gritting his teeth, Dudley added, "And inform Dr. Mather as well."

"Yessir," said Collins as he saluted and departed on his task.

At four o'clock, the twelve members of the Council, along with Dudley and Mather, were seated around a table in the Town House's Council Chamber. Ironically, half the men making up the Council, such as Elisha Cooke and Dr. Thomas Oakes, had been Dudley's enemies in 1702, and his gaolors in 1689. The success of Dudley's expeditions to Louisbourg and Quebec, and the revenues they brought to the colony, had done much to enhance his popularity and reconcile his enemies.

The Governor went straight to the point. "Gentlemen," he said, "I have here a copy of the recently concluded peace treaty with France. Under the terms of that treaty, Canada and Louisbourg are to be returned to French control by next April."

Stunned silence ruled the Council Chamber for the next minute. Nobody asked if Dudley was attempting a jest, for Dudley's lack of humor was well known to all. If he said Canada and Louisbourg were being returned to the French, then they were.

Finally, Cooke spoke. "Why in God's name would they do such a thing?"

"Although we cannot know the minds of the men who negotiated the treaty," said Mather, "we can still hazard a guess. Sir Joseph's conquests of Louisbourg and Canada were carried out during the ministry of Godolphin and Marlborough, and thus reflect no credit upon Harley and Bolingbroke. As well, it is common practice in peace negotiations to trade one territorial acquisition for another of greater value. You've read the treaty, Sir Joseph. Did Britain gain any territories from the French?"

Unhappily, Dudley growled out, "Guadeloupe. Martinique. St. Domingue."

Cooke was astonished. "They've traded Canada for a few islands?"

"Extremely valuable islands," Mather pointed out. "The sugar trade from those few islands is worth hundreds of thousands of pounds a year."

"What shall we do, then?" said Cooke.

"What can we do?" said Dudley.

"We can do the same thing we did fifteen years ago," said Mather firmly. "We can tell Harley and Bolingbroke that we took Canada, that it's ours, and that we're not giving it back!"

Cooke, along with Thomas Oakes and the other Council members who had been in Boston fifteen years earlier, applauded Mather's defiant statement. Dudley, however, remained grave.

"Canada is not Port Royal," Dudley pointed out to them. "The Queen's ministers cannot overlook such defiance. If we do not do as they say and return Canada to the French, then they will hang us as traitors and send men to replace us who will. If anything, I relish the idea of returning our hard-won conquests even less than you do, for I know precisely what sacrifices were made to gain them. But I have no wish to hang for treason, and that is our only alternative."

The Council Chamber was sunk in silent gloom for a time then. But the silence was finally broken by Mather, who said slowly, "If this be treason, then make the most of it."

"What?" said Dudley, perplexed.

"Who are Harley and Bolingbroke to deserve our obedience? Only the latest in a long line of ruthless curs whose only goal is to subjugate us and turn Massachusetts into another Ireland. And who is Anne to deserve our loyalty? Just another sinful, avaricious Stuart monarch seeking to destroy our church and place a bevy of worthless bishops over us! What have they ever done to aid Massachusetts? Nothing! All that Massachusetts is now, was done by our own labors, and our own sacrifice!

"What need have we for a gluttonous tyrant and her court of worthless sycophants? We've proven these last ninety years that we can do better without them than with them, and best on our own! I say we should declare ourselves an independent republic, a commonwealth of New-England!"

"And so say I!" exclaimed Cooke.

"And I!" stated Oakes.

One by one, the other members of the Governor's Council declared for independence, until at last only Governor Dudley himself had not spoken. Silence returned to the Council Chamber for a moment, until finally Mather said softly, "The choice is yours, Sir Joseph. You've done well by the Massachusetts Bay colony these last eleven years, and the colony has done well by you also. If you say nay, we'll not molest you. If you wish to take leave of us and return to Great Britain, you may do so. But I for one would feel better knowing you were with us than against us, for you have proved yourself a man of valor and deeds, and we will need such men in the times ahead. What say you?"

There was a distant look in Dudley's eyes as the others waited for him to speak. Finally, he rose up from his seat at the head of the table and said, "Long live the Commonwealth of New-England."

(Proceed to part 14 - Cotton Comes to Haarlem)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Maximum Massachusetts 12: The Great White Northern War

Quebec, New France
16 August 1706

Philippe de Rigaud, Marquis de Vaudreuil and Governor General of New France, looked unhappily across the fleuve Saint-Laurent at the Île d'Orléans. From his vantage point at the northeastern brink of the rock of Quebec, he could see the masts of two dozen ships flying the Cross of St. George, the banner of France's eternal English enemy. Hundreds of cookfires rose up into the morning air from the island, where Governor Sir Joseph Dudley and his army lay camped.

The Marquis pulled his gaze from the enemy army to spare a glance at his companion, a sight which he found scarcely less objectionable. The stocky figure of Pierre Le Moyne, sieur d'Iberville, was one that de Vaudreuil had grown to detest these last few months. "Happy now?" the Governor snarled.

Le Moyne was uncharacteristically subdued, but that afforded the Marquis only minor comfort. "It's not my fault," he muttered.

"Then whose fault is it?" de Vaudreuil snapped. "I went to considerable difficulty trying to keep the English as pacifistic as possible. After all, they outnumber us fifteen to one! If ever they become roused enough to exert their full strength, New France is doomed. Thus, it behooves us to keep the English as unroused as we possibly can, a policy which I have been following with determination, and with some degree of success, ever since this most recent war began.

"So what do you do? You decide to kidnap the most respected Englishman in North America, the heretic Boston preacher Cotton Mather, and hold him prisoner here in Quebec! Now the conqueror of Louisbourg has descended upon us with the largest army ever assembled on this continent!"

The Marquis's eyes flashed with anger. "My dear sieur d'Iberville, you have managed the almost impossible feat of persuading half a dozen of the incessantly feuding English colonies to join forces against us! There are even companies out there from Maryland and Virginia! Five thousand enemy soldiers now occupy the Île d'Orléans, and a thousand more under Colonel March have been dispatched upriver to seize Montreal."

"It is nothing," d'Iberville assured the Governor. "March will be fortunate if he can even reach Montreal, and as for the men on the Île d'Orléans, ptah! I spit upon them! They are but the dregs of the English colonies, with not a regular English soldier among them! All they can do is plunder civilians and drink themselves stupid. We can hold out until the fall, and then the English must depart or see their fleet trapped when the Saint-Laurent freezes."

"These same dregs, need I remind you," said de Vaudreuil, "succeded in taking the King's fortress at Louisbourg two years ago under this same Governor Dudley. Furthermore, the veterans of that campaign make up the core of the forces now facing us.

"We, by contrast, find ourselves fighting without the aid of most of our erstwhile Indian allies. Again, I might add, as a direct result of your capture of the preacher Mather."

"My Lord," d'Iberville responded, "I must confess myself perplexed on this matter. I can only conclude that the heretic preacher must be the very Devil himself, come to earth to torment New France. He has a power over the savages that I cannot explain. They call him 'the Crow' and seem to regard him as some sort of sorcerer. For the last seven years he has gone among them and used his Devil's powers to seduce them from Holy Mother Church to his diabolical Calvinist heresy. They credit him, and not Dudley, with the fall of Louisbourg, and now they see his presence in Quebec as a sign that it, too, will fall to the English."

"Could you not make an end of him?" wondered de Vaudreuil. "Would that not break the spell he holds over the Indians?"

"Were that the case," said d'Iberville, "I would have run him through myself long since. But his death would only make our cause seem that much more hopeless, for we would have his blood on our hands, and the Indians believe his spirit would haunt Quebec until the crime had been avenged, probably with my own death and the destruction of the city itself."

"Perhaps if we agree to hand him over to the English."

D'Iberville shook his shaggy head. "It is too late for that. Now that Dudley is here, he will not give up the siege until we are overthrown or he is forced to retreat."

A movement out by the Île d'Orléans caught de Vaudreuil's attention, and he turned away from d'Iberville to watch. Several new ships had appeared around the north shore of the island, and they were anchoring there.

The Marquis was taken by surprise by a sudden volley of curses bursting forth from d'Iberville. He too was gazing at the newly arrived ships. He drew a spyglass forth from a case at his belt, and his curses continued in a never-repeating sequence that the Governor found both appalling and astonishing. The grizzled warrior ended his tirade with the words, "Marie-Joseph!"


"The second one from the right, it is the Marie-Joseph, I have sailed upon her! She left for France in the spring to secure supplies for us, and now she is in the hands of the English! And the others, I would swear it, are French as well! The English have captured our supply fleet!" And he lapsed into more curses.

The Marquis de Vaudreuil felt like joining him. With the addition of the supplies carried by the captured fleet, the English would be able to maintain their siege all winter, and the lack of those same supplies doomed the city, already reduced to rations, to certain starvation by spring.

The Governor instead motioned for one of his attendants to approach him. "Go and fetch forth the heretic preacher from his rooms, and have him brought to me here." The attendant saluted and left.

D'Iberville left off his cursing when he heard the Governor's order. "What do you wish of the heretic?" he asked in tones of suspicion.

De Vaudreuil replied, "I intend to send him as an envoy to Governor Dudley. I must meet with Dudley in order to discuss . . . the terms of our surrender."

(Proceed to part 13 - Trick or Treaty)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sobel Wiki Update 6

It's been exactly six months since I created the Sobel Wiki, an online encyclopedia of Robert Sobel's counterfactual history For Want of a Nail: If Burgoyne Had Won at Saratoga. 183 days of moderately diligent work on the part of David A. Mix Barrington and myself has resulted in a wiki with 582 pages, about forty of which are mere stubs. This includes 82 of the 571 vignettes in the Sobel Wiki's For All Nails archives. At this rate, another six months ought to see the Sobel Wiki expand into the useful online resource I anticipated when I started this whole thing.

Stay tuned.