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New England Confederation [May 19, 1643]

 

Whereas we all came into these parts of America, with one and the same end and ayme, namely, to advance the Kingdome of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to enjoy the liberties of the Gospel, in purity with peace; and whereas in our settling (by a wise providence of God) we are further dispersed upon the Sea Coasts, and Rivers, then was at first intended, so that we cannot (according to our desire) with convenience communicate in one Government, and Jurisdiction; and whereas we live encompassed with people of severall Nations, and strange languages, which hereafter may prove injurious to us, and our posterity: And forasmuch as the Natives have formerly committed sundry insolencies and outrages upon severall Plantations of the English, and have of late combined against us. And seeing by reason of the sad distractions in England, which they have heard of, and by which they know we are hinged both from that humble way of seeking advice, and reaping those comfortable fruits of protection which, at other times, we might well expect; we therefore doe conceive it our bounden duty, without delay, to enter into a present Consotiation amongst our selves, for mutuall help and strength in all our future concernments, that, as in Nation, and Religion, so, in other respects, we be, and continue, One, according to the tenour and true meaning of the ensuing Articles.

I. Wherefore it is fully Agreed and Concluded by and between the parties or Jurisdictions [of Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut and New Haven] That they all be, and henceforth be called by the name of, The United Colonies of New-England.

II. The said United Colonies for themselves, and their posterities doe joyntly and severally hereby enter into a firm and perpetuall league of friendship and amity, for offense and defence, mutuall advice and succour, upon all just occasions, both for preserving and propagating the truth, and liberties of the Gospel, and for their own mutuall safety, and wellfare.

III. It is further agreed, That the Plantations which at present are, or hereafter shall be settled within the limits of the Massachusets, shall be forever under the Government of the Massachusets. And shall have peculiar Jurisdiction amongst themselves, as an intire body; and that Plimouth, Connecticut, and NewHaven, shall each of them, in all respects, have the like peculiar Jurisdiction, and Government within their limits. And in reference to the Plantations which already are setled, or shall hereafter be erected and shall settle within any of their limits respectively, provided that no other Jurisdiction shall hereafter be taken in, as a distinct head, or Member of this Confederation, nor shall any other either Plantation, or Jurisdiction in present being, and not already in combination, or under the Jurisdiction of any of these Confederates, be received by any of them, nor shall any two of these Confederates, joyne in one Jurisdiction, without consent of the rest....

IV. It is also by these Confederates agreed, That the charge of all just Wars, whether offensive, or defensive, upon what part or Member of this Confederation soever they fall, shall both in men, provisions, and all other disbursements, be born by all the parts of this Confederation, in different proportions, according to their different abilities, in manner following, namely, That the Commissioners for each Jurisdiction, from time to time, as there shall be occasion, bring a true account and number of all the Males in each Plantation, or any way belonging to, or under their severall Jurisdictions, of what quality, or condition soever they be, from sixteen years old, to threescore, being inhabitants there. And that according to the different numbers, which from time to time shall be found in each Jurisdiction, upon a true, and just account, the service of men, and all charges of the war, be born by the poll: Each Jurisdiction, or Plantation, being left to their own just course, and custome, of rating themselves, and people, according to their different estates, with due respect to their qualities and exemptions among themselves, though the Confederation take no notice of any such priviledge. And that, according to the different charge of each Jurisdiction, and Plantation, the whole advantage of the War (if it please God so to blesse their endeavours) whether it be in Lands, Goods, or persons, shall be proportionably divided among the said Confederates.

V. It is further-agreed, That if any of these Jurisdictions, or any Plantation under, or in Combination with them, be invaded by any enemy whomsoever, upon notice, and request of any three Magistrates of that Jurisdiction so invaded. The rest of the Confederates, without any further meeting or expostulation, shall forthwith send ayde to the Confederate in danger, but in different proportion, namely the Massachusets one hundred men sufficiently armed, and provided for such a service, and journey. And each of the rest five and forty men, so armed and provided, or any lesse number, if lesse be required, according to this proportion. But if such a Confederate may be supplyed by their next Confederate, not exceeding the number hereby agreed, they may crave help there, and seek no further for the present. The charge to be born, as in this Article is expressed. And at their return to be victualled, and supplied with powder and shot (if there be need) for their journey by that Jurisdiction which imployed, or sent for them.... But in any such case of sending men for present ayde, whether before or after such order or alteration, it is agreed, That at the meeting of the Commissioners for this Confederation, the cause of such war or invasion, be duly considered, and if it appear, that the fault lay in the party so invaded, that then, that Jurisdiction, or Plantation, make just satisfaction, both to the invaders, whom they have injuried, and bear all the charges of the war themselves....

And further, if any Jurisdiction see any danger of an invasion approaching, and there be time for a meeting, That in such case, three Magistrates of that Jurisdiction may summon a meeting, at such convenient place, as themselves shall think meet, to consider, and provide against the threatened danger....

VI. It is also agreed, That for the managing and concluding of all affaires proper to, and concerning the whole Confederation, two Commissioners shall be chosen by, and out of the foure Jurisdictions, namely two for the Massachusets, two for Plimouth, two for Connecticut, and two for New-haven, being all in Churchfellowship with us, which shall bring full power from their severall generall Courts respectively, to hear, examine, weigh, and determine all affaires of war, or peace, leagues, aydes, charges, and numbers of men for war, division of spoyles, or whatsoever is gotten by conquest, receiving of more confederates, or Plantations
into Combination with any of these Confederates, and all things of like nature, which are the proper concomitants, or conse. quences of such a Confederation, for amity, offense, and defence not intermedling with the Government of any of the Jurisdictions, which by the third Article, is preserved intirely to themselves. . . . It is further agreed, That these eight Commissioners shall meet once every year, besides extraordinary meetings, according to the fifth Article to consider, treat, and conclude of all affaires belonging to this Confederation, which meeting shall ever be the first Thursday in September. And that the next meeting after the date of these presents, which shall be accounted the second meeting, shall be at Boston in the Massachusets, the third at Hartford, the fourth at New-Haven, the fifth at Plimouth, the sixth and seventh at Boston; and then Hartford, New-Haven, and Plymouth, and so in course successively. If in the mean time, some middle place be not found out, and agreed on, which may be commodious for all the Jurisdictions.

VIII. It is also agreed, That the Commissioners for this Confederation hereafter at their meetings, whether ordinary or extraordinary, as they may have Commission or opportunity, doe endeavour to frame and establish Agreements and Orders in generall cases of a civil nature, wherein all the Plantations are interested, for preserving peace amongst themselves, and preventing (as much as may be) all occasions of war, or differences with others, as about the free and speedy passage of Justice in each Jurisdiction, to all the Confederates equally, as to their own, receiving those that remove from one Plantation to another, without due Certificates, how all the Jurisdictions may carry it towards the Indians, that they neither grow insolent, nor be injuried without due satisfaction, least War break in upon the Confederates, through such miscarriages. It is also agreed, That if any Servant run away from his Master, into any other of these Confederated Jurisdictions, That in such cases upon the Certificate of one Magistrate in the Jurisdiction, out of which the said Servant fled, or upon other due proof, the said Servant shall be delivered either to his Master, or any other that pursues, and brings such Certificate, or proof. And that upon the escape of any Prisoner whatsoever, or fugitive, for any Criminall Cause.
whether breaking Prison, or getting from the Officer, or otherwise escaping, upon the Certificate of two Magistrates of the Jurisdiction out of which the escape is mades that he was a prisoner or such an offender, at the time of the escape. The Magistrates, or some of them, of that Jurisdiction where for the present the said prisoner or fugitive abideth, shall forthwith grant such a Warrant, as the case will bear, for the apprehending of any such person, and the delivery of him into the hand of the Officer, or other person who pursueth him. And if help be required for the safe returning of any such offender, it shall be granted unto him that craves the same, he paying the charges thereof.

IX. And for that the justest Wars may be of dangerous consequence, especially to the smaller Plantations in these United Colonies, it is agreed, That neither the Massachusetts Plymouth, Connecticut nor New-Haven, nor any of the Members of any of them, shall at any time hereafter begin undertake or engage themselves, or this Confederation, or any part thereof in any War whatsoever (sudden exigents with the necessary consequences thereof excepted, which are also to be moderated, as much as the case will permit) without the consent and agreement of the forenamed eight Commissioners, or at least six of them, as in the sixt Article is provided....

XI. It is further agreed, That if any of the Confederates shall hereafter break any of these presents Articles, or be any other way injurious to any one of the other Jurisdictions such breach of Agreement, or injury shalbe duly considered, and ordered by the Commissioners for the other Jurisdictions, that both peace, and this present Confederation, may be intirely preserved without violation.