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[342] lawyer, and supported by the time-serving cour-
Chap. IX.} 1628.
tier, Lord Dorchester, better known as Sir Dudley Carleton, who, in December, became Secretary of State, obtained from the king a confirmation of their grant. It was obviously the only way to secure the country as a part of his dominions; for the Dutch were already trading in the Connecticut river; the French claimed New England, as within the limits of New France; and the prelatical party, which had endeavored again and again to colonize the coast, had tried only to fail. Before the news reached London of Endicott's safe arrival, the number of adventurers was much enlarged; on the second of March, 1629,
an offer of ‘Boston men,’ that promised good to the plantation, was accepted; and on the fourth of the same month, a few days only before Charles I., in a public state paper, avowed his purpose of reigning without a parliament, the broad seal of England was put to the letters patent for Massachusetts.

The charter, which was cherished for more than half a century as the most precious boon, constituted a body politic by the name of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England. The administration of its affairs was intrusted to a governor, deputy, and eighteen assistants, who were annually, on the last Wednesday of Easter term, to be elected by the freemen or members of the corporation, and to meet once a month or oftener ‘for despatching such businesses as concerned the company or plantation.’ Four times a year the governor, assistants, and all the freemen were to be summoned to ‘one great, general, and solemn assembly,’ and these ‘great and general courts’ were invested with full powers to choose and admit into the company so many as they

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