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Mayflower, Day by Day - Wednesday, 14 July 1621

14 Jul 2021 3:27 AM | Soule (Administrator)

Meeting with the Chief

“After, we came to a town of Massasoit's, where we ate oysters and other fish. From thence we went to Pokanoket but Massasoit was not at home.”  It was determined to send for the sachem, and when news was brought of his coming, “our guide Tisquantum requested that at our meeting we would discharge our pieces, but one of us going about to charge his piece, the women and children, through fear to see him take up his piece, ran away.”  They could not be brought back until the interpreter explained what was going on.

“Massasoit being come, we discharged our pieces, and saluted him, who after their manner kindly welcomed us, and took us into his house, and set us down by him, where, having delivered our foresaid message and presents, and having put the coat on his back and the chain about his neck, he was not a little proud to behold himself, and his men also to see their king so bravely attired.”

In answer to the settlers’ message, Massasoit told them that they were welcome, “and he would gladly continue that peace and friendship which was between him and us: and, for his men, they should no more pester us as they had done: also that he would send to Paomet, and would help us with corn for seed, according to our request.”

“This being done, his men gathered near to him, to whom he turned himself, and made a great speech; they sometimes interposing, and, as it were, confirming and applauding him in that he said. The meaning whereof (as far as we could learn) thus; Was not he Massasoit, commander of the country about them? Was not such a town as his and the people of it? And should they not bring their skins unto us? To which they answered, they were his and would be at peace with us, and bring their skins to us. After this manner he named at least thirty places, and their answer was as aforesaid to every one:  so that as it was delightful, it was tedious unto us.  This being ended, he lighted tobacco for us, and fell to discoursing of England, and of the King's Majesty, marvelling that he would live without a wife.”  King James’ wife, Anne of Denmark, had died in 1619 of dropsy, and had borne him three children who survived infancy, including the future Charles I.  As an aside, a source of difference between Anne and James (and the Pilgrims) was the issue of religion; for example, she refused to receive the Anglican communion at her English coronation.  Anne had been brought up a Lutheran, and had a Lutheran chaplain Hans Sering in her household, but she may have discreetly converted to Catholicism at some point, a politically embarrassing move which alarmed ministers of the Scottish Kirk and caused suspicion in Anglican England.  Like James, Anne later supported a Catholic match for both their sons, and her correspondence with the potential bride, the Spanish Infanta, Maria Anna, included a request that two friars be sent to Jerusalem to pray for her and the King. 

Massasoit also “talked of the Frenchmen, bidding us not to suffer them to come to Narraganset, for it was King James his country, and he also was King James his man. Late it grew, but victuals he offered none; for indeed he had not any, being he came so newly home. So we desired to go to rest; he laid us on the bed with himself and his wife, they at the one end and we at the other, it being only planks laid a foot from the ground, and a thin mat upon them. Two more of his chief men, for want of room, pressed by and upon us, so that we were worse weary of our lodging than of our journey.”  Lice and fleas pressed upon them two, and, apparently, the Indians sang themselves to sleep.  Winslow and Hopkins probably got no sleep that night.

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