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E/MS Unit II: Building a New Society: Life in Colonial Massachusetts Lesson C: A Young Colony Faces Challenges
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Document E/MS II-11: New England News! Excerpts from Publick Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestick, Boston, Thursday Sept. 25, 1690

Publick Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestick was the first paper published in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Note: Spelling has been modernized, but the capitalization and use of italics is as in the original.

A. Editorial introduction

It is designed, that the Country shall be furnished: published, providedfurnished once a month (or if any glut of Occurrences happen oftener), with an Account of such considerable: importantconsiderable things as have arrived unto our Notice.

In order hereunto, the Publisher will take what pains he can to obtain a faithful: accurate, truthfulfaithful relation: reportrelation of all such things; and will particularly make himself beholden: gratefulbeholden to such Persons in Boston whom he knows to have been for their own use the diligent: hard workingdiligent Observers of such matters….

B. News item

The Christianized Indians in some parts of Plimouth, have newly appointed a day of Thanksgiving to God for his Mercy in supplying their extream and pinching: absoluteextream and pinching Necessities under their late want of: lack ofwant of Corn & for His giving them now a prospect: promise ofprospect of a very Comfortable Harvest. Their Example may be worth Mentioning.

C. News item

While the barbarous: uncivilized, very cruelbarbarous Indians were lurking: sneaking aroundlurking about Chelmsford, there were missing about the beginning of this month a couple of Children belonging to a man of that Town, one of them aged about eleven, the other aged about nine years, both of them supposed to be fallen into the hands of the Indians.

D. News item

Epidemical fevers and Agues grow very common in some parts of the Country, whereof, tho many die not, yet they are sorely unfitted for their employments; but in some parts a more malignant Fever seems to prevail in such fort that it usually goes through a Family where it comes, and proves Mortal unto many.

The Small-pox which has been raging in Boston, after a manner very Extraordinary is now much abated. It is thought that far more have been sick of it than were visited with: infected byvisited with it when it raged so much twelve years ago, nevertheless it has not been so mortal: fatalmortal. The number of them that have died in Boston by this last visitation: outbreak of diseasevisitation is about three hundred and twenty, which is not perhaps half so many as fell by the former. The time of its being most General was in the Months June, July, and August, then ‘twas that sometimes in some one Congregation on a Lord’s day there would be Bills desiring prayers for above a hundred Sick. It seized upon all sorts of people that came in the way of it, it infected even Children in the bellies of Mothers that had themselves undergone the Disease many years ago; for some such were now born full of the distemper: disease, disturbed state of minddistemper. ‘Tis not easy to relate the Trouble and Sorrow that poor Boston has felt by this Epidemical Contagion….

E. News item

Although Boston did a few weeks ago, meet with a Disaster by Fire, which consumed about twenty Houses near the Mill-Creek, yet about midnight, between the sixteenth and seventeenth of this instant: of this monthinstant, another Fire broke forth near the South-Meeting-House, which consumed about five or six houses and had almost carried the Meeting-house it self, one of the fairest edifices: buildingsedifices in the Country, if God had not remarkably assisted the endeavours: effortsendeavours of the People to put out the Fire. There were two more considerable: importantconsiderable Circumstances in the calamities: tragedies; difficultiescalamities of this Fire, one was that a young man belonging to the house where the Fire began, unhappily perished: diedperished in the Flames; it seems that tho’ he might sooner awake than some others who did escape, yet he some way lost those Wits that should have taught him to help himself. Another was that the best furnished: published, providedfurnished PRINTING-PRESS, of those few that we know of in America was lost, a loss not presently to be repaired….

The paper goes on to give extensive reports on the French and Indian War.

F. News item

Another late matter of discourse: discussiondiscourse has been an unaccountable: unexplainedunaccountable destruction befalling a body of Indians, that were our Enemies. This body of French Indians had a Fort somewhere far up the River, and a party of Maqua’s returning from the East Country, where they have at a great rate pursued and terrified those Indians which have been invading of our North East Plantations, and Killed their General Hope Hood among the rest; resolved to visit this Fort; but they found the effort ruined, the Canoes cut to pieces, and the people all either Butchered or Captive…

G. News item

Two English Captives escaped from the hands of the Indians and French at Piscadamoquady, came into Portsmouth on the sixteenth instant: of this monthinstant and say, That when Capt. Mason was at Port Real, he cut the faces, and ripped the bellies of two Indians, and threw a third Over board in the fight of the French, who informing the other Indians of it, they have in revenge barbarously: with extreme crueltybarbarously Butchered forty Captives of ours that were in their hands….

QUESTIONS:

  1. What is the subject of the news item you read?

  1. What information is given about the subject?

  1. Is the writing impartial and unbiased? If not, underline words that suggest a bias.

  1. Which words in the articles: rulesarticles are in italics? Why might this be so?