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Mayflower, Day by Day - Wednesday, 31 March [1620]/21

31 Mar 2021 3:46 AM | Soule (Administrator)

At anchorage

A fine warm day.  Beginning to put ship in trim for return voyage.  Bringing ballast on board. 

The Pilgrims sent Samoset back to Pokanoket to see what was taking so long to arrange a meeting.  He was given a hat, a pair of stockings and shoes, a shirt, and a piece of cloth to tie about his waist. 

A general meeting of the settlers was held in the meeting house, to lay down laws and orders, and to confirm the military orders formerly proposed.  The Pilgrims had tried to have this kind of a meeting twice before, and twice before it was broken off by the Indians appearing on the outskirts of the village.  And today, as if on cue, it happened again.  After the meeting had gone on for an hour or so, “two or three savages presented themselves, that made semblance of daring us, as we thought.  So Captain Standish with another, with their muskets went over to them, with two of the master's mates that follow them without arms, having two muskets with them. They whetted and rubbed their arrows and strings, and made show of defiance, but when our men drew near them, they ran away; thus were we again interrupted by them.” 

It is almost as though the Indians had a mole in the Pilgrim number, who was able to signal them whenever the group was getting ready to gather.  It is clear that the Indians had been watching the Pilgrims -- closely -- all winter, and they could have attacked at any point and probably obliterated the nascent colony.  But they did not.  The journalist Rebecca Fraser wrote, “The rapid depletion of settlers convinced Massasoit that they [the Pilgrims] were not going to harm him and that some kind of treaty could be negotiated.  In the past historians tended to believe the Indian populations were innocent dupes of the early English settlers.  The development of ethnohistory has shown that the Indians had their own agendas to use powerful newcomers against other tribes” (The Mayflower: The Families, The Voyage, and the Founding of America [New York: St Martin’s Press, 2017]: 68-69).

“This day with much ado we got our carpenter that had been long sick of the scurvy, to fit our shallop, to fetch all from aboard.”  They were finally removing all of their belongings from the Mayflower; the last group of Pilgrims were removed from the ship, and the whole company was now on shore.

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