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Mayflower, Day by Day - Monday, 5 April 1621

5 Apr 2021 2:52 AM | Soule (Administrator)

At anchor

Bringing ballast from shore and getting ship in trim.

At some point not long after Carver was re-elected Governor and Standish was named commander of the military force, John Billington got into the first of a rapidly degenerating series of scrapes.  He engaged in some kind of argument with Standish; Standish had called him to stand his turn at watch, a duty required of all men and especially important at this time when the Pilgrims were in such dire straits.  Billington was charged “before the whole company for his contempt of the Captain’s lawfull command with opprobrious speeches.”  This was while people were still suffering and dying around the settlement, and this is the first time since the Mayflower had arrived at Provincetown harbour that such an altercation had burst out into the open.  The colony had never had to deal with such open disagreement before; apparently John Carver stepped in, as Governor, and called together a group of settlers to enquire into the circumstances and restore order.  Billington was sentenced “to have his neck and heels tied together” in a public display of humiliation.  Billington, “humbling himself and craving pardon,” was eventually “forgiven,” whether at the impassioned requests of his family or with his own promise of better behaviour.  It was specifically recorded that this was a “first offense” -- both for Billington and for the new colony; John Billington was thus the first person to commit a crime in New England.  Tensions were rising with the temperatures.

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