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[408] without the special leave of the commissioners; and
Chap. X.}
persons of inferior order were required to take the oaths of supremacy and allegiance.1

Willingly as these acts were performed by religious bigotry, they were prompted by another cause. The members of the Grand Council of Plymouth, long re-

duced to a state of inactivity, prevented by the spirit of the English merchants from oppressing the people, and having already made grants of all the lands from the Penobscot to Long Island, determined to resign their charter, which was no longer possessed of any value. Several of the company desired as individuals to become the proprietaries of extensive territories. even at the dishonor of invalidating all their grants as a corporation. The hope of acquiring principalities subverted the sense of justice. A meeting of the lords was duly convened, and the whole coast, from Acadia to beyond the Hudson, being divided into shares, was distributed, in part at least, by lots. Whole provinces gained an owner by the drawing of a lottery.2

Thus far all went smoothly; it was a more difficult matter to gain possession of the prizes; the independ ent and inflexible colony of Massachusetts formed too serious an obstacle. The grant for Massachusetts, it was argued, was surreptitiously obtained; the lands belonged to Robert Gorges by a prior deed; the intruders had ‘made themselves a free people.’ The general patent for New England was surrendered to

the king: to obtain of him a confirmation of their respective grants, and to invoke the whole force of English power against the charter of Massachusetts,

1 Hazard, i. 247—348.

2 Gorges, b. II. c. II. Hubbard, 226—229. Hazard, i. 383

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