"The end is where we start from."

-T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Brief Review of The History of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts-Bay, Volume 1

Thomas Hutchinson, in The History of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts-Bay, Volume 1, tells the story of Massachusetts from the first tenuous settlements in 1602 to the issuing of a new provincial charter in the year 1692. The author divides his book into six chapters, the first three detailing the actions of the colonial government and the daily life of the colony.
After thrilling the reader with anecdotes, intrigues, trials, politics, and wars, Hutchinson concludes his volume with three short chapters, each dealing with specific subjects. Chapter four treats the doctrines of the non-separating congregationalists, chapter five explains the civil government of the colony, and chapter six tells about the Indian tribes and their ways of life.
In writing his history, Hutchinson seeks to give an unprejudiced account of the colony's early days, making exhaustive use of letters, charters, orders, records, and stories. This solid utilization of source material allows the reader to better understand the colonial mind of the seventeenth century.
Hutchinson believes that "the addition of wealth and power to Great Britain, in consequence of this first emigration of our ancestors, exceeds all expectation." (Hutchinson, xxix) While the author's pride in his colony shows through, Hutchinson tries carefully to let the past speak for itself, permitting the deeds of people, whether helpful or harmful, to come down to us in the present.