The attempt to gain possession of the territory on Narragansett Bay
was less deserving of success.
proceeded with the decision of an independent state.
, a wild but benevolent enthusiast, who used to say, heaven was not a place, there was no heaven but in the hearts of good men, no hell but in the mind, had created disturbances in the district of Warwick
A minority of the inhabitants, wearied with harassing disputes, requested the interference of the
magistrates of Massachusetts
and two sachems, near Providence
, surrendered the soil to the jurisdiction of that state.2 Gorton
and his partisans did not disguise their scorn for the colonial clergy; they were advocates for liberty of conscience, and, at the same time, having no hope of protection except from England
, they were, by their position, enemies to colonial independence; they denied the authority of the magistrates of Massachusetts
, not only on the soil of Warwick
, but every where, inasmuch as it was tainted by a want of true allegiance.
Such opinions, if carried into effect, would nave destroyed the ecclesiastical system of Massachu-
setts, and subverted its liberties, and were therefore thought worthy of death; but the public opinion of the time, as expressed by a small majority of the deputies, was more merciful, and Gorton
and his associates were imprisoned.
It is the nature of a popular state to cherish peace: the people murmured at the severity of their rulers, and the imprisoned men were soon set at liberty; but the claim to the territory was not immediately abandoned.3