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Mayflower, Day by Day - Thursday, 1 April [1620]/21

1 Apr 2021 4:10 AM | Soule (Administrator)

At anchorage

A very fair, warm day.  At work on ship getting ready for sea, bringing ballast aboard.  The last of the colonists on board the ship went ashore to remain to-day.  Mourt’s Relation gives a long description of the day’s events, which I will attach here with a few comments:

Another general meeting of the settlers was called for noon today.  They had not even been an hour together when … and you could see this coming by now, couldn’t you? … Samoset the Indian came again with “Tisquantum [Squanto], the only native of Patuxet, where we now inhabit, who was one of the twenty captives that by [Captain Thomas] Hunt were carried away, and had been in England, and dwelt in Cornhill with Master John Slanie, a merchant, and could speak a little English, with three others, and they brought with them some few skins to truck, and some red herrings newly taken and dried, but not salted … [They] signified that their great Sagamore,  Masasoyt, was hard by, with Quadequina his  brother, and all their men.  They could not well express in English what they would, but after an hour the king came to the top of a hill over against us, and had in his train sixty men, that we could well behold them and they us. We were not willing to send our governor to them, and they unwilling to come to us, so Tisquantum went again unto him, who brought word that we should send one to parley with him, which we did, which was Edward Winslow, to know his mind, and to signify the mind and will of our governor, which was to have trading and peace with him. We sent to the king a pair of knives, and a copper chain with a jewel at it. To Quadequina we sent likewise a knife and a jewel to hang in his ear, and withal a pot of strong water, a good quantity of biscuit, and some butter, which were all willingly accepted.”  Edward Winslow gives us here another proof of his self-sacrifice and devotion to his work, and that splendid intrepidity which characterized his whole career.  At this most critical moment, the fate of the little colony trembling in the balance, when there was evident fear of treachery and surprise on the part of both the English and the Indians; though his wife lay at the point of death (which came two days later); he went forward alone, his life in his hands, to meet the great sachem surrounded by his whole tribe, as the calm, adroit diplomat, upon whom all must depend;  and as the fearless hostage, to put himself in pawn to the chief. 

Winslow “made a speech unto him, that King James saluted him with words of love and peace, and did accept of him as his friend and ally, and that our governor desired to see him and to truck with him, and to confirm a peace with him, as his next neighbor. He liked well of the speech and heard it attentively, though the interpreters did not well express it. After he had eaten and drunk himself, and given the rest to his company, he looked upon our messenger's sword and armor which he had on, with intimation of his desire to buy it, but on the other side, our messenger showed his unwillingness to part with it. In the end he left him in the custody of Quadequina his brother, and came over the brook, and some twenty men following him, leaving all their bows and arrows behind them. We kept six or seven as hostages for our messenger.  Captain Standish and Master Williamson met the king at the brook, with half a dozen musketeers.”  It would seem from the frequent mention of the presence of some of  the ship’s company, Master Jones, the “Masters-mates,” and now Williamson, the “ship’s-merchant,” that the Mayflower was daily well represented in the little settlement on shore.  Williamson’s presence on this occasion is perhaps easily accounted for: every other meeting with the Indians had been unexpected, the present one was anticipated, and somewhat eagerly, for almost everything depended on its successful outcome.  By this time Standish had probably become aware that Tisquantum’s command of English was very limited, and he desired all the aid the ship’s interpreter could give.  The guard of six was probably made small to leave the body of the colonists as strong a reserve force as possible to meet any surprise attack on the part of the Indians.  The guard seems to have advanced to the hill (“Strawberry” or later “Watson’s”) to meet the sachem, instead of only to “the brook.” 

“They saluted him and he them, so one going over, the one on the one side, and the other on the other, conducted him to a house then in building, where we placed a green rug and three or four cushions. Then instantly came our governor with drum and trumpet after him, and some few musketeers. After salutations, our governor kissing his hand, the king kissed him, and so they sat down. The governor called for some strong water, and drunk to him, and he drunk a great draught that made him sweat all the while after; he called for a little fresh meat, which the king did eat willingly, and did give his followers. Then they treated of peace” -- more on that tomorrow -- “all the while he sat by the governor he trembled for fear. In his person he is a very lusty man, in his best years, an able body, grave of countenance, and spare of speech. In his attire little or nothing differing from the rest of his followers, only in a great chain of white bone beads about his neck, and at it being his neck hangs a little bag of tobacco, which he drank and gave us to drink; his face was painted with a sad red like murry, and oiled both head and face, that he looked greasily. All his followers likewise, were in their faces, in part or in whole painted, some black, some red, some yellow, and some white, some with crosses, and other antic works; some had skins on them, and some naked, all strong, tall, all men in appearance.  So after all was done, the governor conducted him to the brook, and there they embraced each other and he departed; we diligently keeping our hostages, we expected our messenger's coming, but anon, word was brought us that Quadequina was coming, and our messenger was stayed till his return, who presently came and a troop with him, so likewise we entertained him, and conveyed him to the place prepared. He was very fearful of our pieces, and made signs of dislike, that they should be carried away, whereupon commandment was given they should be laid away. He was a very proper tall young man, of a very modest and seemly countenance, and he did kindly like of our entertainment, so we conveyed him likewise as we did the king, but divers of their people stayed still. When he was returned, then they dismissed our messenger. Two of his people would have stayed all night, but we would not suffer it. One thing I forgot, the king had in his bosom, hanging in a string, a great long knife; he marveled much at our trumpet, and some of his men would sound it as well as they could. Samoset and Tisquantum, they stayed all night with us, and the king and all his men lay all night in the woods, not above half an English mile from us, and all their wives and women with them. They said that within eight or nine days they would come and set corn on the other side of the brook, and dwell there all summer, which is hard by us. That night we kept good watch, but there was no appearance of danger.”  Quite a day.

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