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Mayflower, Day by Day - Friday, 24 September 1621

24 Sep 2021 3:19 AM | Soule (Administrator)

What did the Indians think that they were doing?

The initial treaty addressed Massasoit "friend" and "ally" of King James, not mentioning the word "subject" at all, a clear signal to the Indians that they would enjoy an alliance of equals with the English (see Nathaniel Morton, New England’s Memoriall, in Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers, 38).  The stipulations of the original treaty implied reciprocity, or equality, despite some noted exceptions, such as the clause that that Indians deliver any offender against the English to English justice, but that lacked a reciprocal clause delivering offenders against the Indians to Indian justice. Nevertheless, the historical record makes it clear that Massasoit assumed reciprocity applied to every aspect of the treaty, stated or not.  When Massasoit suspected Squanto of wrongdoing, he demanded the English turn him over to the Indians for judgment.  When Plymouth's governor resisted, Massasoit protested vehemently, "demanding him ... as being one of his subjects, whom, by our first Articles of Peace, we could not retain" (Winslow, Good Newes from New England, 13-14).  In addition, the English asked no tribute of the Indians, as superior sachems traditionally did of their subjects. Rather, they gave and received gifts to solidify what they repeatedly referred to as a friendship (see, for example, Winslow’s 1621 visit to Massasoit, in which he took “some gratuity to bind [Massasoit] the faster unto him” [Bradford, Of Plimoth Plantation, Morison ed., 87].)

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