Sunday, February 26, 2012

Letter From John Winthrop to Roger Williams

Sir: The Lord having so disposed, as that your letters to our late Govr is fallen to my lott to make answer unto, I could have wished I might have been at more freedome of time & thoughts also, that I might have done it more to your & my owne satisfaction. But what shall be wanting now may be supplyed hereafter. For ye matters which from your selfe & counsell were propounded & objected to us, we thought not fitte to make them so publicke as ye cognizance of our Generall Courte. But as they have been considered by those of our counsell, this answer we thinke fitt to returne unto you. (1.) Whereas you signifie your willingnes to joyne with us in this warr against ye Pequents, though you cannot ingage your selves without the consente of your Generall Courte, we acknowledge your good affection towards us, (which we never had cause to doubt of,) and are willing to attend your full resolution, when it may most seasonably be ripened. Whereas you make this warr to be our peoples, and not to conceirne your selves, otherwise then by consequence, we do in parte consente to you therin; yet we suppose, that, in case of perill, you will not stand upon such terms, as we hope we should not doe towards you; and withall we conceive that you looke at ye Pequents, and all other Indeans, as a comone enimie, who, though he may take occasion of ye begining of his rage, from some one parte of ye English, yet if he prevaile, will surly pursue his advantage, to ye rooting out of ye whole nation. Therefore when we desired your help, we did it not without respecte to your owne saftie, as ours. (2) Whereas you desire we should be ingaged to aide you, upon all like occasions; we are perswaded you doe not doubte of it; yet as we now deale with you as a free people, and at libertie, so as we cannot draw you into this warr with us, otherwise then as reason may guide & provock you; so we desire we may be at ye like freedome, when any occasion may call for help from us. And whereas it is objected to us, that we refused to aide you against ye French; we conceive ye case was not alike; yet we cannot wholy excuse our failing in that matter. (4) Whereas you objecte that we began ye warr without your privitie, & managed it contrary to your advise; the truth is, that our first intentions being only against Block Hand, and ye interprice seeming of small difficultie, we did not so much as consider of taking advice, or looking out for aide abroad. And when we had resolved upon ye Pequents, we sent presently, or not long after, to you aboute it; but ye answer received, it was not seasonable for us to change our counsells, excepte we had seen and waighed your grounds, which might have out wayed our owne.

For our peoples trading at Kenebeck, we assure you (to our knowledge) it hath not been by any allowance from us; and what we have provided in this and like cases, at our last Courte, Mr. E. W. can certifie you.

And Sir; wheras you objecte to us yet we should hold trade & correspondancie with ye French, your enemise; we answer, you are misinformed, for, besids some letters which hath passed betweene our late Govr and them, to which we were privie, we have neither sente nor incouraged ours to trade with them; only one vessell or tow, for ye better conveace of our letters, had licens from our Govr to sayle thither.

Diverce other things have been privatly objected to us, by our worthy freind, wherunto he received some answer; but most of them concerning ye apprehention of perticuler discurteseis, or injueries from some perticuler persons amongst us. It concernes us not to give any other answer to them then this; that, if ye offenders shall be brought forth in a right way, we shall be ready to doe justice as ye case shall require. In the meane time, we desire you to rest assured, that such things are without our privity, and not a litle greeveous unto us.

Now for ye joyning with us in this warr, which indeed concerns us no other wise then it may your selves, viz.: the releeving of our freinds & Christian breethren, who are now first in ye danger; though you may thinke us able to make it good without you, (as, if ye Lord please to be with us, we may,) yet 3 things we offer to your consideration, which (we conceive) may have some waight with you. (First) If we should sinck under this burden, your opportunitie of seasonable help would be lost in 3. respects. 1. You cannot recover us, or secure your selves ther, with 3 times ye charge & hazard which now ye may. 2ly. The sorrowes which we should lye under (if through your neglect) would much abate of ye acceptablenes of your help afterwards. 3rdThose of yours, who are now full of courage and forwardnes, would be much damped, and so less able to undergoe so great a burden. The 2nd thing is this, that it concernes us much to hasten this warr to an end. before ye end of this somer, otherwise ye newes of it will discourage both your & our freinds from coining to us next year; with what further hazard & losse it may expose us unto, your selves may judge.

The (3.) thing is this, that if ye Lord shall please to blesse our endeaours, so as we end ye warr, or put it in a hopefull way without you, it may breed such ill thoughts in our people towards yours, as will be hard to entertaine such opinione of your good will towards us, as were fitt to be nurished among such neigbours & brethren as we are. And what ill consequences may follow, on both sids, wise men may fear, & would rather prevente then hope to redress. So with my harty salutations

to you selfe, and all your counsell, and other our good freinds with you, I rest

Yours most assured in ye Lord,

Jo: Winthrop. Boston, ye 20. of ye 3. month," 1637. (May 20th, 1637)