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Mayflower, Day by Day - Saturday, 25 September 1621

25 Sep 2021 3:08 AM | Soule (Administrator)

What did the Indians think that they were doing [part two]?

At least nine Indian sachems, other than Massasoit, had signed their names to an agreement acknowledging themselves "to be the Loyal Subjects of King James." There is good evidence to believe that Massasoit and these other sachems understood and accepted this relationship. When Edward Winslow visited Massasoit 1621, for example, the sachem declared that he was "King James, his man,” and that his land was "King James his country." While we cannot know the precise reasons the Indians may have decided to become subjects, we can discern some compelling possibilities. First, both Indians and English desired trade, and a treaty of peace would help ensure that.  Second, a treaty with the English could offer the Pokanoket and the Massachusetts protection against their powerful neighbours, the Narragansetts.  Plagues had decimated Massasoit's people in the years preceding Plymouth's settlement, while the Narragansetts had somehow avoided any infection. The resulting demographic imbalance made the already powerful Narragansetts threatening indeed.  The fact that many surrounding sachems and sub-sachems entered into similar agreements with Plymouth implies that these other Indian chiefdoms also viewed submission to King James as a beneficial relationship.

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