Full text: Religion, colonising & trade

ultimately wrecked it. But it will be noted that the 
driving force in these critical early years, whether on 
the side of uniformity or on that of diversity, was 
In the Royal Charter granted to the Massachusetts 
Bay Company by King Charles I in March 1629, 
conversion of the heathen finds a place towards the 
end of the Charter. The words used were explicit 
and notable and may well be quoted. The Company 
was empowered to make laws and provisions for the 
directing, ruling and disposing of all other matters 
and things whereby the said people, inhabitants there, 
may be so religiously, peaceably and civilly governed, 
as their good life and orderly conversation may will 
and incite the natives of that country to the knowledge 
and obedience of the only true God and Saviour of 
mankind, and the Christian Faith, which, in our royal 
intention and the adventurers’ free profession, is the principal 
end of this plantation. 
This was a striking pronouncement at the outset of 
a very great English colony, that the principal object 
of its foundation was to spread the Gospel, and, further, 
that proselytes were to be made through the object 
lesson presented by the lives of the white settlers. 
In New England, in the hands of such men as 
Thomas Mayhew and John Eliot, missionary work 
became a reality. Eliot, the apostle of the North 
American Indians, went out in 1631 with the ship 
which carried Winthrop’s family, Winthrop himself 
having gone in the previous year. Eliot set himself 
! The Charter will be found at pp. 22-26 of the Documentary Source 
Book of American History, 1606-1913 (Macmillan Co.. 1018). new edition.

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