Georg Wilhelm Steller
Steller’s classic work, published in Latin in 1751 and in German in 1753, contains the only scientific description from life of the Steller’s sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas), as well as the first scientific descriptions of the fur seal or “sea bear” (Callorhinus ursinus), Steller’s sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus), and the sea otter (Enhydra lutris).
Steller’s sea cow was a sirenian, or manatee, inhabiting the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea. It was first discovered by Europeans in 1741 and rendered extinct by 1768. It was a 30-foot long, plant-eating aquatic mammal, weighing up to 12 tons, that lived in large herds on the coasts of Alaska and Kamchatka.
Steller made his observations as part of Vitus Bering’s second voyage, during which the crew was shipwrecked for 9 months on Bering Island, from November 1741 to August 1742. This voyage was undertaken as part of the Great Northern Expedition, commissioned by the Imperial Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, to prosecute the exploration of the North Pacific and western North America.
This English translation originally appeared in 1899, in an appendix to The Fur Seals and Fur-Seal Islands of the North Pacific Ocean, edited by David Starr Jordan, Part 3 (Washington, 1899), pp. 179–218.
A brief bibliography, links to online works and sites, and illustrations have been added by the present editor.
A Discourse concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers: With some Reflections on the Resistance made to King Charles I. And on the Anniversary of his Death: In which the Mysterious Doctrine of that Prince’s Saintship and Martyrdom is Unriddled
After the Restoration of the English monarchy in the person of Charles II in 1660, the new king and his first Parliament declared the anniversary of the beheading of his father Charles I (January 30, 1649) a religious holiday with a special commemoration in the Book of Common Prayer, naming the late monarch a saint and martyr. This holiday was not generally celebrated in Massachusetts until the emergence of several Anglican churches there in the early eighteenth century. In 1750, Jonathan Mayhew, the twenty-nine-yearold pastor of the West (Congregational) Church in Boston, took occasion to dispute the first Charles’ credentials to saintship, martyrdom, and even his kingship as well. Mayhew’s Discourse is an extremely interesting bridge between the radical Puritan past and the American Revolutionary future. His sermon contains the language, rhetoric, symbolism, typology, and religious and philosophical arguments that would be used extensively in the agitation for American independence twenty-five years later. Mayhew would subsequently take a leading role in the resistance to the Stamp Act of 1765, and his sermons and writings had an enormous impact on the evolution of New England Puritanism into American republican ideology. This online electronic edition contains the full, unabridged text of his sermon, as published at Boston in 1750 (other online and reprint versions contain only excerpts).
James Anderson and Benjamin Franklin
This is an online electronic edition of the the first Masonic book printed in America, which was produced in Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin in 1734, and was a reprint of a work by James Anderson (who is identified as the author in an appendix) printed in London in 1723. This is the seminal work of American Masonry, edited and published by one of the founding fathers, and of great importance to the development of colonial society and the formation of the Republic. The work contains a 40-page history of Masonry: from Adam to the reign of King George I, including, among others, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Solomon, Hiram Abif, Nebuchadnezzar, Augustus Caesar, Vitruvius, King Athelstan the Saxon, Inigo Jones, and James I of England. There are extended descriptions of the Seven Wonders of the World, viz. 1) the Great Pyramid, 2) Solomon’s Temple, 3) the City and Hanging-Gardens of Babylon, 4) the Mausoleum or Tomb of Mausolus, King of Caria, 5) the Lighthouse of Pharos at Alexandria, 6) Phidias’s statue of Jupiter Olympius in Achaia, and 7) the Colossus at Rhodes (although some maintain the 5th is the Obelisk of Semiramis). It is a celebration of the science of Geometry and the Royal Art of Architecture, as practiced from ancient times until the then-current revival of the Roman or Augustan Style. “The Charges of a Free- Mason” and the “General Regulations” concern rules of conduct for individuals and of governance for Lodges and their officers. The work also includes five songs to be sung at meetings, one of which—“A New Song”—appears in print for the first time and may have been composed by Franklin. The document suggests that Masonry, in its modern Anglo-American form, was rooted in Old Testament exegesis (“So that the Israelites, at their leaving Egypt, were a whole Kingdom of Masons, … under the Conduct of their GRAND MASTER MOSES”) and in contemporary Protestant ideals of morality, merit, and political equality.
The Negro Christianized. An Essay to Excite and Assist that Good Work, the Instruction of Negro- Servants in Christianity
There were enslaved Negroes in New England before there were Puritans there, and by 1700 they numbered about 1,000 out of a total population of 90,000. Roughly half of them lived in Massachusetts, and were concentrated in Boston and the coastal towns. Puritans actively participated in the colonial slave trade, importing them from the West Indies and sometimes selling Indian prisoners into overseas slavery.
Cotton Mather was a slave-owner, and his congregation at the Second (or North) Church included both slave merchants and Negroes. The pamphlet reprinted here appeared in 1706 without his name, but his authorship of it was generally known. It calls on slave owners to educate their Negro servants in the Christian religion, to treat them justly and kindly, and to accept them as spiritual brethren. It includes two catechisms and other instructional materials. It advances both spiritual and pragmatic arguments: the Christian has a moral responsibility for the souls of those in danger, and the Christianized servant is more profitable to his master.
Mather’s style in this work is unusually (for him) plain-spoken and direct. He quotes only one church father (Chrysostom), one classical philosopher (Cato), and one modern historian (Acosta). Moreover, his language seems particularly fresh, almost contemporary: “Man, Thy Negro is thy Neighbour. … Yea, if thou dost grant, That God hath made of one Blood, all Nations of men, he is thy Brother too.”—and, at another point, “… say of it, as it is.”
The ebook text presented here was transcribed from the first edition, printed at Boston in 1706. A very few notes have been included, as has also a list of typographical errors corrected.
Phaenomena quaedam Apocalyptica ad aspectum Novi Orbis configurata. Or, some few lines towards a description of the New Heaven
Samuel Sewall and Reiner Smolinski
SAMUEL SEWALL (1652-1730) is best remembered as a colonial judge during the Salem Witchcraft trials, as a significant diarist, and as an ardent millenarian, who published a number of eschatological tracts on his favorite obsession. Apart from his political achievements in the colonial judicature, Sewall published a number of significant works. The Selling of Joseph (1700) is one of the earliest abolitionist documents in American history. His famous Diary of Samuel Sewall, 1674-1729 (1878-82) is a Puritan document par excellence and a window on a crucial period in the development of the colony. His millenarian tract Proposals Touching the Accomplishment of Prophesies Humbly Offered (1713) highlights Sewall’s eschatological theories amplified in his earlier Phænomena quædam Apocalyptica . . . Or, some few Lines towards a description of the New Heaven (1697, second ed. 1727). Reprinted here in an online electronic text edition (based on an original copy held by the American Antiquarian Society), Phænomena is something of an exegetical conundrum that encapsulates the most significant eschatological theories of the day. Writing in defense of America’s place in Christ’s cosmography of the millennium, Sewall responds to Joseph Mede’s legerdemain denigration of the New World as the location of Hell. More significantly, Sewall writes the equivalent of an American martyrology, advocates the conversion of the Indians as remnants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, and reaffirms America’s future place in Christ’s millennial kingdom, at a time when the Mathers and many of their colleagues looked toward Europe and the Holy Land for the fulfillment of their fondest hopes. Often misunderstood, Phænomena illustrates the intricate connection between prophetic exegesis and New England politics, between eschatological speculations and self-representation and policies toward the Indian populations of North America.
Old Mens TEARS For their own DECLENSIONS, Mixed with FEARS Of their and Posterities further falling off from New-England’s PRIMITIVE CONSTITUTION
This is an online edition of Scottow’s popular tract, published in Boston in 1691, based on the first edition. Later editions were published in Boston in 1715, 1733, and 1749, and in New London in 1769. It is a searchable PDF document. The characteristics of Scottow’s original text (spelling, punctuation, capitalization, italics, etc.) have been retained. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected, and a list of emendations is included at the end. Its typographic design is based on that of the original. The work decries the falling off of New England from the purity and purpose of its original founding, and ascribes the recent series of misfortunes to God’s displeasure over the worldliness of the colonial churches and society. Scottow’s tract is an important example of the jeremiad formulation of punishment and promise, and it provides a wealth of typological imagery and Biblical allusion connecting the Puritan enterprise to the Israel of the Old Testament and to the anticipated Kingdom of God in America.
This ebook represents a new edition of Increase Mather’s influential contemporary account of King Philip’s War, between the English colonists in New England (and their Native allies) and the Wampanoag, Naragansett, and other Indian nations of the region, beginning in 1675. Mather’s account runs through August of 1676, when hostilities in southern, central, and western New England ended; fighting continued in the region of Maine until 1678. The war was disastrous for both sides, but particularly for the hostile Native Americans, who were brought very close to extermination.
Mather describes his history as “brief” (its 30,00 words run to 89 pages in this edition) and “impartial”—a claim that may ring false to modern ears. Mather was not a direct participant, but was an associate of most of the colonial leadership and a spiritual advisor to the war effort. His History has the advantage of being freshly written during the conflict, and reflects the alternating hopes and disappointments that accompanied each bit of news that arrived in Boston. He argues that the United Colonies (Massachusetts, Plymouth, and Connecticut) waged a defensive war against a treacherous enemy who assaulted their settlements and plantations without provocation. He does, however, blame the English colonists for their neglect of religion (including insufficient efforts to Christianize the natives) and for the sins of apostacy, inordinate pride of apparel and hair, drunkenness, and swearing—all of which gave God adequate cause to raise enemies against them as a “Scourge” to punish them and motivate them to repentence and reformation.
The Brief History does deliver many telling truths about the conflict: that the English conducted search-and-destroy campaigns against both persons and provisions, slaughtered (Mather’s word) large numbers of women and children as well as men, executed captured leaders by firing squad (on Boston Common and at Stonington, Ct.); and that their “armies” were on several occasions routed or entirely wiped out by Native fighters.
This ebook edition is based on the first printed edition published at Boston in 1676, and it retains the spelling, punctuation, and orthography of the original. Some explanatory notes have been added (at the end), along with a bibliography, and a note on the textual history of the work, the editorial rationale employed, and a list of all emendations.
This is a well-known execution sermon from seventeenth-century Massachusetts, delivered on the occasion of the sentencing to death of a young man convicted of bestiality—specifically of copulation with a mare, in which he was discovered in the open in broad daylight. Samuel Danforth, who wrote and delivered the sermon, would have known the condemned young man very well. Benjamin Goad had been born into Danforth’s congregation at Roxbury and had grown up under his pastoral care. Danforth was also familiar with the anguish of a parent over the death of a child, having suffered the deaths of eight of his own children; he would himself be dead within the year.
Danforth’s discourse describes the various practices associated with the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, including self-pollution (masturbation), whoredome (prostitution), adultery, fornication, incest, sodomy, buggery, and bestiality, and his text is replete with biblical examples. He defends the sentence of death as necessary for the preservation of the church and society. He applies the example made of the condemned to the need for general reformation among all the spectators, who share in man’s fallen and immoral nature: “The gross and flagitious practises of the worst of men, are but Comments upon our Nature. Who can say, I have made my heart clean ? The holiest man hath as vile and filthy a Nature, as the Sod-omites, or the men of Gibeah.” (p. 14) The sins and abominations of “uncleanness” offer false promises of pleasure, secrecy, impunity, and the possibility of future repentance. As means of preservation, Danforth recommends the audience to beware of pride, gluttony, drunkenness, sloth and idleness, disobedience to parents and masters, evil company, irreligion, and profaneness.
The sermon is a fascinating and valuable document. Though the case of Benjamin Goad was by no means unique in colonial New England, Danforth’s open and public discussion provides illuminating insights into Puritan moral attitudes and social practices. The work is known largely by reputation; it is the first so-called “execution sermon” but has never been reprinted or anthologized. It has previously been available only on microfilm (of a partially defective copy) or in a facsimile compilation with limited distribution.
Samuel Danforth’s election sermon of 1670 is a classic example of the New England jeremiad. Addressed to the assembled delegates on the occasion of the election of officers for the Massachusetts General Court, it asks the very pointed question: “What is it that distinguisheth New-England from other Colonies and Plantations in America?” The answer, of course, is that the Puritan colonies (Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven) were founded for the pursuit of religious ends by the reformed Protestant churches of England:
“You have solemnly professed before God, Angels and Men, that the Cause of your leaving your Country, Kindred and Fathers houses, and transporting your selves with your Wives, Little Ones and Substance over the vast Ocean into this waste and howling Wilderness, was your Liberty to walk in the Faith of the Gospel with all good Conscience according to the Order of the Gospel, and your enjoyment of the pure Worship of God according to his Institution, without humane Mixtures and Impositions.”
Danforth’s sermon is an eloquent and extended meditation on the words of Jesus in Matthew, chapter 11, “What went ye out into the wilderness to see?”—concerning the character and function of John the Baptist, both as prophet and as harbinger or forerunner of the Messiah. While Danforth excoriates those who have put worldly concerns above New England’s religious mission, and enumerates examples of God’s special punishments and trials directed at the colony, he also holds out the “promise of divine Protection and Preservation” and the opportunity to “choose this for our Portion, To sit at Christ’s feet and hear his word; and whosoever complain against us, the Lord Jesus will plead for us ... and say. They have chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from them.”
Samuel Danforth (1626-1674) was pastor of the church in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He was a graduate of Harvard College, a poet, almanac-maker, and astronomer, and an associate of the Rev. John Eliot, the missionary.
Denton’s work was the first English account intended to promote settlement of the region recently seized from the Dutch. It is of particular interest for 1) its description of the geographic and topographic features of the region from Albany in the north to the mouth of the Delaware Bay in the south, and from the eastern tip of Long Island to the interior of modern-day New Jersey; 2) its enumeration of the plants, animals, and commodities of the area; 3) its impressive and extended account of the customs and livelihood of the Indians of the region; 4) its early suggestion of “manifest destiny,” whereby the Indians are providentially removed by a “Divine hand”; 5) its depiction of the region as a “terrestrial paradise” for English settlement and agriculture—“a land flowing with milk and honey”; and 6) its invocation of an early form of the “rags-to-riches” potential of American life. Rather than depict the rigors of colonial life, Denton focuses on the richness and opportunities of the New World, describing an almost carefree and sensually suggestive existence in a land rich in all sorts of fruits, including “Strawberries, of which last is such abundance in June, that the Fields and Woods are died red : Which the Countrey-people perceiving, instantly arm themselves with bottles of Wine, Cream, and Sugar, and instead of a Coat of Male, every one takes a Female upon his Horse behind him, and so rushing violently into the fields, never leave till they have disrob’d them of their red colours, and turned them into the old habit.” Denton (c.1626–1703) was born in Yorkshire, England, and emigrated to Massachusetts in the 1640s. He was the son of the Reverend Richard Denton, considered the first Presbyterian minister in America. He became a town official and land developer in Long Island, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. His tract was published during his only return trip to England in 1670–72, and is a lively and unabashedly promotional picture of an Anglo-American agrarian paradise, including such examples as the following: “How many poor people in the world would think themselves happy, had they an Acre or two of Land, whilst here is hundreds, nay thousands of Acres, that would invite inhabitants. … I may say, and say truly, that if there be any terrestrial happiness to be had by people of all ranks, especially of an inferior rank, it must certainly be here : here any one may furnish himself with land, and live rent-free, yea, with such a quantity of land, that he may weary himself with walking over his fields of Corn, and all sorts of Grain. … Here those which Fortune hath frown’d upon in England, to deny them an inheritance amongst their Brethren, or such as by their utmost labors can scarcely procure a living, I say such may procure here inheritances of land, and possessions, stock themselves with all sorts of Cattel, enjoy the benefit of them whilst they live, and leave them to the benefit of their children when they die. … I must needs say, that if there be any terrestrial Canaan, ‘tis surely here, where the Land floweth with milk and honey.”
A Declaration of the Sad and Great Persecution and Martyrdom of the People of God, called Quakers, in New-England, for the Worshipping of God
From 1656 through 1661, the Massachusetts Bay Colony experienced an “invasion” of Quaker missionaries, who were not deterred by the increasingly severe punishments enacted and inflicted by the colonial authorities. In October 1659, two (William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson) were hanged at Boston; in June 1660, Mary Dyar (or Dyer) became the third; in March 1661, William Leddra became the fourth (and last) to suffer capital punishment or “mar-tyrdom” for their Quaker beliefs.While members of the Society of Friends rushed to Massachu-setts to test the harsh sentences under the newly enacted laws, other Friends in England simultaneously petitioned Parliament and the newly restored king for relief from this official persecu-tion. When the Massachusetts General Court sent a petition to King Charles II explaining and defending their actions, Edward Burrough, a leading Quaker writer and controversialist, answered it with the publication that follows. Its first part is a point-by-point refutation of the Massachusetts claims; its second part is a detailed list of the punishments, cruelties, and indignities suffered by Friends at the hands of the colonial authorities; its third section is a narrative description of the three executions of 1659 and 1660, including the public statements of the condemned. Burrough’s publication (and a subsequent audience with the king) led to Charles’ issuance of an order halting the punishments in the fall of 1661, although they were resumed, in only slightly less severe form, the following year.
John Eliot (1604-1690), the Puritan missionary to the New England Indians, developed this plan of political organization for the Christianized tribes that he converted. In the late 1640s, he adapted it for English use and sent a manuscript copy to England, where it appeared in print 10 years later, in 1659, following the death of Cromwell and before the accession of Charles II.
Eliot’s “Preface” to the work was far more radical and troublesome than the utopian theocracy described in the main body. “Much is spoken of the rightful Heir of the Crown of England, and the unjustice of casting out the right Heir: but Christ is the only right Heir of the Crown of England, and of all other Nations also.” He proposed to the English nation, “That you would now set the Crown of England upon the head of Christ, whose only true inheritance it is,” and set their “civil polity” on the model given by God to Moses in the wilderness (in Exodus 18), so that “then shall the will of God be done on earth, as it is done in heaven.” The work throughout anticipates an imminent start of the millennium.
Within three years the book had been banned, and Eliot was forced to issue a public retraction and apology. His unique and fascinating work has been called the first book of political theory written by an American and also the first book to be banned by an American government.This online edition reproduces the full text of the original, including the contemporary spellings and punctuation. A few typographic errors have been corrected and are noted.
Milk for Babes. Drawn Out of the Breasts of Both Testaments. Chiefly, for the Spirituall Nourishment of Boston Babes in Either England: But May Be of Like Use for Any Children
John Cotton’s Milk for Babes (also known as Spiritual Milk for Babes), a beginning catechism for children and young Christians, was first published in the 1640s and remained in print continuously for over 200 years. In a series of 64 questions and answers, it rehearses sin and the law, the ten commandments, the role of the Church, the nature of grace, the covenant, salvation, the sacraments, and the last judgment. It is annotated with 203 marginal Bible references on which Cotton based his statement of the fundamental Puritan credo. In its 13 small pages, Cotton’s catechism encompasses the Reformed Protestant faith in simple, succinct, and eloquent language that passed into general usage and, ultimately, into the New England subconscious.
The oldest surviving copy of Milk for Babes was published in London in 1646. It was reprinted many times on both sides of the Atlantic, and at least eight editions from the seventeenth century are known. Between 1690 and 1701, it was first incorporated into The New-England Primer, and it remained an essential component of that work and an integral part of American religious education for the next 150 years.
John Cotton (1584–1652) was by most accounts the preeminent minister and theologian of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was educated at Cambridge and was a leader of the Independents or Puritans in England. In 1633, to avoid prosecution for nonconformity, he came to Massachusetts, where he served as “Teacher” for the church in Boston until his death.
This ebook edition of Milk for Babes contains the entire text of the earliest known printing from 1646. It also includes a brief textual history and an added appendix giving the text of all 203 Bible passages cited, keyed to the questions and answers to which Cotton applied them.
P. Vincentius, John Underhill, Lion Gardener, and John Mason
P. Vincentius, A True Relation of the Late Battell fought in New England, between the English, and the Salvages : With the present state of things there (1637)
John Underhill, Newes From America; or, A New and Experimentall Discoverie of New England; Containing, a Trve Relation of Their War-like proceedings these two yeares last past, with a Figure of the Indian Fort, or Palizado (1638)
Lion Gardener, Relation of the Pequot Warres 
John Mason, A Brief History of the Pequot War: Especially of the memorable Taking of their Fort at Mistick in Connecticut in 1637 (1736)
The work reprinted here, in an online electronic text edition, is Cotton’s famous farewell sermon preached at the departure of the Winthrop fleet in Southampton in 1630. Gods Promise to His Plantation (1630)—courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society—is an ideological justification for engaging in such a risky venture, a promotional tract to encourage emigration, and a typological argument for possessing the wilderness. Like Winthrop’s famous A Model of Christian Charity (1630), John Cotton’s sermon is central to the Puritan experiment in the New World.
John Smith (1580-1631) made one voyage to the coast of Massachusetts and Maine in 1614, and attempted a second one the following year, only to be captured by French pirates and detained for several months near the Azores before escaping and making his way back to England. This book is the story of these two voyages.
Smith went to the coasts of America north of Virginia to explore the opportunities for fisheries, fur trading, and settlement. Smith was a veteran soldier, sailor, traveller, explorer, cartographer, and colonist: he had fought the Spanish in France and Italy, the Turks in Hungary and Transylvania, and the Algonkians in Virginia; he had sailed the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and the Caribbean; he had been a prisoner of the Ottomans and a slave in Constantinople, had journeyed through Russia, Europe, and North Africa; he had been both a president and a prisoner in the Jamestown colony, and had explored the Potomac River and mapped the Chesapeake Bay.
His Description of New England describes the fishing, soils, inhabitants, fauna, flora, and climate of the coastal region from Cape Cod to Penobscot. This work is the first to apply the term “New England” to that portion of the North America from Long Island Sound to Newfoundland. At that time it held a few trading and fishing stations, and French traders from the north and Dutch from the south carried on commerce in furs with the natives. There was a prosperous fishery to the north, where cod were taken by ships from Portugal, Holland, and Spain. To Smith, these were evidence of the richness of commodities to be had, and signs of the strategic importance to England of securing permanent settlements in the region. Smith had departed Virginia in 1609 under a cloud of accusations and had quarrelled with the leaders of the privately-held Virginia Company. Seeking a new arena for colonial opportunities in the new world, Smith saw New England as a place where English life could be transplanted to America, and this work is an extended advertisement and prospectus for investors and settlers, with Smith to provide the expertise and leadership.
This ebook edition is based on the London edition of 1616, and preserves the spelling and punctuation of that original. Some explanatory notes have been added, along with a discussion of the text and a list of typographical errors corrected.
This is an ebook edition of the first book published by an English colonist in America. Its author, Thomas Hariot or Harriot, was a cartographer, mathematician, astronomer, linguist, and philosopher, who was a participant in Sir Walter Ralegh’s first attempt to establish a colony in “Virginia,” on Roanoke Island in modern-day North Carolina, from June 1585 until June 1586. Hariot had learned the rudiments of the Algonkian language from two natives brought back to England from an earlier exploratory voyage, and he served as interpreter and liaison with the native peoples of the surrounding region. His Brief and True Report focuses largely upon the native inhabitants, giving much valuable information on their food sources, agricultural methods, living arrangements, political organization, and religion. Published in 1588, with Ralegh’s support, to help incite both investment and settlement, Hariot’s 13,000-word account also gives many details of the “merchantable commodities,” plants, animals, and economic opportunities to be found there. Written by an ethnographer and natural scientist who was an integral part of the first English attempt at American colonization, the Brief and True Report is by far the most important early English account of North America. This ebook edition contains some essential annotations, a textual note, and links to other important online materials relating to the Roanoke colony.
Most of these works have been previously issued in the "Electronic Texts in American Studies" series at http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/etas/ They are re-issued here for the opportunity to feature them as e-books and to display their graphic covers.
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