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  • 4 Apr 2021 2:55 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in Plymouth harbour

    Happy New Year!

    The first day of the new year 1621 -- the calendar changed year on the Feast of the Annunciation, also known as Lady Day (“the Annunciation of the Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary” occurring on 25 March), since it was the anniversary of the Incarnation.  New Year’s Day only changed to 1 January in English speaking territories in 1752.  25 March in the Julian Calendar of 1621 would be 4 April in the Gregorian Calendar that we use.

    In the ecclesiastical calendar of the Book of Common Prayer, this would have been the Sunday Before Easter -- from what I can tell from very complicated programs now online, Easter in 1621 was on 11 April (n.s.) or 1 April (o.s.).

    The fifteenth Sunday in this port.  Many of the crew dead and some still sick, but the sickness and mortality lessening: there were now days on which no one died.  There was now enough housing for everyone to sleep indoors, even though some houses were not yet complete.  The weather was warmer.

  • 3 Apr 2021 4:18 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    The ship’s company busy with preparations for the return voyage, bringing ballast, wood, and water from the shore, etc., the ship having no lading for the return.

    Many still sick; more on the ship than on shore.  This day Elizabeth (Barker) Winslow, wife of Edward Winslow, died on shore.  They had been married not quite three years.  Edward Winslow was still with the Indians as a hostage. 

    Only Samoset and Squanto spent the night; Massasoit and his people (including their wives and children) camped about half a mile away.  The settlers kept watch all night, but the woods were silent.

  • 2 Apr 2021 3:57 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor

    A fair day.  Some of the ship’s company went on shore.  Making ready for sea, getting ballast, wood, and water from the shore, etc. 

    Yesterday, it was noted, Massasoit “drank a great draught” of brandy and broke out in a sweat.  The sweat may not have been only because of the alcohol.  He didn’t say all that much, but it was clear not only to Bradford but also to others that Massasoit was trembling with fear.  He was every bit as afraid of the Pilgrims as they were of him.  Yet he was able to agree to a “treaty” of sorts, which held, remarkably (under the circumstances), for more than half a century:

    “1. That neither he nor any of his should injure or do hurt to any of our people.

    2. And if any of his did hurt to any of ours, he should send the offender, that we might punish him.

    3. That if any of our tools were taken away when our people are at work, he should cause them to be restored, and if ours did any harm to any of his, we would do the likewise to them.

    4. If any did unjustly war against him, we would aid him; if any did war against us, he should aid us.

    5. He should send to his neighbor confederates, to certify them of this, that they might not wrong us, but might be likewise comprised in the conditions of peace.

    6. That when their men came to us, they should leave their bows and arrows behind them, as we should do our pieces when we came to them.

    Lastly, that doing thus, King James would esteem of him as his friend and ally.”  The agreement had a definite downside for the English, however, because the Pokanoket were at war with the Narragansett, and Massasoit was definitely counting on the support of his new friends, who might very soon be dragged into a war between the two tribes, particularly if Massasoit decided to take advantage of the powerful new weaponry to take out the Narragansett in a decisive first strike.

    This morning “divers of their people came over to us, hoping to get some victuals as we imagined; some of them told us the king would have some of us come see him. Captain Standish and Isaac Allerton went venturously, who were welcomed of him after their manner: he gave them three or four ground-nuts, and some tobacco.”  They came back safely; this was one of several good signs that the peace agreement was working.  “We cannot yet conceive but that he is willing to have peace with us, for they have seen our people sometimes alone two or three in the woods at work and fowling, when as they offered them no harm as they might easily have done, and especially because he hath a potent adversary the Narragansets, that are at war with him, against whom he thinks we may be some strength to him, for our pieces are terrible unto them. This morning they stayed till ten or eleven of the clock, and our governor bid them send the king's kettle, and filled it full of peas, which pleased them well, and so they went their way.”  

    The settlers held a meeting -- finally without being interrupted by Indians appearing --  and concluded both military orders and some laws, and chose as Governor, for the coming year, John Carver, who had been elected Governor in Plymouth (England) on the ship last August, and was confirmed in that office last November.

  • 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.

  • 31 Mar 2021 3:46 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    A fine warm day.  Beginning to put ship in trim for return voyage.  Bringing ballast on board. 

    The Pilgrims sent Samoset back to Pokanoket to see what was taking so long to arrange a meeting.  He was given a hat, a pair of stockings and shoes, a shirt, and a piece of cloth to tie about his waist. 

    A general meeting of the settlers was held in the meeting house, to lay down laws and orders, and to confirm the military orders formerly proposed.  The Pilgrims had tried to have this kind of a meeting twice before, and twice before it was broken off by the Indians appearing on the outskirts of the village.  And today, as if on cue, it happened again.  After the meeting had gone on for an hour or so, “two or three savages presented themselves, that made semblance of daring us, as we thought.  So Captain Standish with another, with their muskets went over to them, with two of the master's mates that follow them without arms, having two muskets with them. They whetted and rubbed their arrows and strings, and made show of defiance, but when our men drew near them, they ran away; thus were we again interrupted by them.” 

    It is almost as though the Indians had a mole in the Pilgrim number, who was able to signal them whenever the group was getting ready to gather.  It is clear that the Indians had been watching the Pilgrims -- closely -- all winter, and they could have attacked at any point and probably obliterated the nascent colony.  But they did not.  The journalist Rebecca Fraser wrote, “The rapid depletion of settlers convinced Massasoit that they [the Pilgrims] were not going to harm him and that some kind of treaty could be negotiated.  In the past historians tended to believe the Indian populations were innocent dupes of the early English settlers.  The development of ethnohistory has shown that the Indians had their own agendas to use powerful newcomers against other tribes” (The Mayflower: The Families, The Voyage, and the Founding of America [New York: St Martin’s Press, 2017]: 68-69).

    “This day with much ado we got our carpenter that had been long sick of the scurvy, to fit our shallop, to fetch all from aboard.”  They were finally removing all of their belongings from the Mayflower; the last group of Pilgrims were removed from the ship, and the whole company was now on shore.

  • 30 Mar 2021 3:01 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    A fine day.  Digging and planting of gardens on shore.  Those crew members who were sick are now on the mend.

    There was another dynamic working in the Indians’ plans: Squanto, the only surviving resident of the village which had, several years ago, occupied the place where the Pilgrims were now constructing their plantation, but of which nothing remained.  Kidnapped by Thomas Hunt and brought to Spain, he was almost sold into slavery before he was freed by Franciscan friars, who taught him the Catholic faith; he received baptism from them.  I will pause while you contemplate that the ferocious anti-Catholics, who hated with a perfect hatred anything that even had a slight whiff of the Church of Rome, were ultimately saved by … a Catholic!  He was now dwelling at Pokanoket with Massasoit.  The chief, however, did not trust Squanto, but his knowledge and connections were too valuable for Massasoit to ignore, and Squanto certainly made use of them all to get Massasoit’s attention and bring him around to Squanto’s way of thinking.  He insisted that the worst thing that they could do would be to attack the settlers: they had not only cannons and guns, but they were the bringers of the plague, as well.  Squanto began to insist that the Pilgrims could unleash the plague at will; this was by far the most fearsome weapon in their arsenal.  And if Massasoit allied himself with the Pilgrims, then he would have access to this weapon as well, and he could unleash it (or get the Pilgrims to unleash it) on the relatively unscathed tribes of the Narragansett and the Massachusett Indians.  Philbrick summarises: “It was a suggestion that played on Massasoit’s worst fears. … Reluctantly, Massasoit determined that he must ‘make friendship’ with the English.  To do so, he must have an interpreter, and Squanto -- the only one fluent in both English and Massachusett, the language of Pokanoket -- assumed that he was the man for the job.  Though he’d been swayed by Squanto’s advice, Massasoit was loath to place his faith in the former captive, whom he regarded as a conniving cultural mongrel with dubious motives.  So he first sent Samoset, a visiting sachem with only a rudimentary command of English, to the Pilgrim settlement.  But now it was time for Massasoit to visit the English himself.  He must turn to Squanto” (Mayflower, 96).
  • 29 Mar 2021 2:56 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    A fair day.  The settlers digging and sowing seeds.

    What was Massasoit thinking?  It is inconceivable that the chief of a loose confederation of local villages and tribes, that would much later coalesce as the Wampanoag, did not know about Samoset’s visit to Plymouth, or that Samoset came without Massasoit’s approval.  What most modern writers seem to be agreed on is that, when the Pilgrims arrived last November, the Indians were most startled by the fact that the settlers had women and children -- these would probably be the first European women and children that the Indians had ever seen.  These new Englishmen also did not seem all that interested in trading, which had been the major preoccupation of all previous visitors -- although, to be fair, the Indians did make themselves very scarce for the first five months, making any trade impossible.  All of the writers of the last century have also presented a constantly repeated catalogue of incidents that had taken place over the previous two decades, detailing the kidnapping of Indians by the Europeans, and the torture and killing of Europeans by the Indians.  One of these incidents had occurred less than a year before the Mayflower’s arrival: the Nauset were “much incensed and provoked against the English,” according to Bradford, and had tortured and killed three men the previous summer.  When they saw the Mayflower, they assumed that retribution had arrived, and it is in this context that the “First Encounter” can be viewed: a “first strike” (or “anticipatory retaliation”).

    But the attack did not scare off the Pilgrims.  The tribes then resorted to their shamans for an emergency curse: Bradford wrote that the settlers learned that the Indians had met for three days “in a horrid and devilish manner, to curse and execrate them [the settlers] with their conjurations, which assembly and service they held in a dark and dismal swamp.”  The Pilgrims were placed under the most fearsome curses imaginable -- three times -- but they were, unaccountably, still there.  When an armed attack failed, and then witchcraft failed, Massasoit must have realised that his options were decreasing, one by one, and quickly.  He was also being threatened by other larger, much more powerful tribes to his west and north.  He did not need another enemy to his east, essentially surrounding him completely.  The only way definitively to get rid of an enemy is to transform the enemy into a friend.

  • 28 Mar 2021 2:58 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in Plymouth harbour

    The fourteenth Sunday the ship has lain at this anchorage.  A fair day.  The sickness stayed a little.  Many went on shore to the meeting in the common-house. 

    “On this day came again the savage, and brought with him five other tall proper men; they had every man a deer's skin on him, and the principal of them had a wild cat's skin, or such like on the one arm. They had most of them long hosen up to their groins, close made; and above their groins to their waist another leather, they were altogether like the Irish-trousers. They are of a complexion like our English gypsies, no hair or very little on their faces, on the heads long hair to their shoulders, only cut before, some trussed up before with a feather, broad-wise, like a fan, another a fox tail hanging out.  These left (according to our charge given him before) their bows and arrows a quarter of a mile from our town.” This Sunday visit was doubtless very much to the dislike of our good brethren, but policy dictated every possible forbearance.  Their consciences drew the line at trade, however, and they got rid of their untimely visitors as soon as possible without giving offense.  Massasoit’s men seem to have shown, by leaving their pelts with them, a confidence in their new English neighbours that is remarkable in view of the brevity of their friendship.  “We gave them entertainment as we thought was fitting them; they did eat liberally of our English victuals. They made semblance unto us of friendship and amity; they sang and danced after their manner, like antics [i.e., clowns]. They brought with them in a thing like a bow-case (which the principal of them had about his waist) a little of their corn pounded to powder, which, put to a little water, they eat. He had a little tobacco in a bag, but none of them drank [i.e., smoked] but when he listed. Some of them had their faces painted black, from the forehead to the chin, four or five fingers broad; others after other fashions, as they liked. They brought three or four skins, but we would not truck with them at all that day, but wished them to bring more, and we would truck for all, which they promised within a night or two, and would leave these behind them, though we were not willing they should, and they brought us all our tools again which were taken in the woods, in our men's absence. So because of the day we dismissed them so soon as we could. But Samoset, our first acquaintance, either was sick, or feigned himself so, and would not go with them, and stayed with us till Wednesday morning. The Sabbath day, when we sent them from us, we gave every one of them some trifles, especially the principal of them. We carried them along with our arms to the place where they left their bows and arrows, whereat they were amazed, and two of them began to slink away, but that the other called them. When they took their arrows, we bade them farewell, and they were glad, and so with many thanks given us they departed, with promise they would come again” (Mourt’s Relation).

  • 27 Mar 2021 7:12 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour

    A reasonably fair day.  Fetched wood and water. 

    Samoset was a Wabanaki Indian from the Maine coast, who had survived both the epidemic that swept the coast as well as attacks from neighbouring tribes (such as the Tarrantines).  His presence with the Wampanoags suggests that there was extensive communication and coastal trade between the various tribes in New England, which did not end with the spread of disease.  Samoset told the settlers about opportunities for trade along the Maine coast, before he returned there permanently a year or two later, where he was encountered by the English explorer Christopher Leverett, who wrote about his meeting with “Somersett [Samoset], a Sagamore, one that hath been found very faithful to the English, and hath saved the lives of many of our nation” (A Voyage into New England begun in 1622 [London: William Jones, 1624], 9).  Today, Samoset “went away back to the Massasoits, from whence he said he came, who are our next bordering neighbours.  They are sixty strong, as he saith.  The Nausets are as near southeast of them, and are a hundred strong, and those were they of whom our people were encountered, as we before related.  They are much incensed and provoked against the English, and about eight months ago slew three Englishmen, and two more hardly escaped by flight to Monchiggon; they were Sir Ferdinando Gorges his men, as this savage told us, as he did likewise of the huggery, that is, fight, that our discoverers had with the Nausets, and of our tools that were taken out of the woods, which we willed him should be brought again, otherwise, we would right ourselves.  These people are ill affected towards the English, by reason of one Hunt, a master of a ship, who deceived the people, and got them under color of trucking with them, twenty out of this very place where we inhabit, and seven men from Nauset, and carried them away [in 1614], and sold them for slaves like a wretched man (for twenty pound a man) that cares not what mischief he doth for his profit” (Mourt’s Relation).  Samoset also mentioned that there was another Indian at “the Massasoits” (a place called Pokanoket, forty miles to the southwest at the head of Narragansett Bay) named Squanto, who spoke even better English than he did.

    “In the morning we dismissed the savage, and gave him a knife, a bracelet, and a ring; he promised within a night or two to come again, and to bring with him some of the Massasoits, our neighbors, with such beavers’ skins as they had to truck with us” (Mourt’s Relation).  “To truck” means to trade: all early and modern lexicographers give the word, which, though now obsolete, was in common use in parts of New England just over a century ago.

  • 26 Mar 2021 7:13 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    A fair, warm day, towards noon. 

    Master Jones and others went ashore to the general military meeting.  It was planned that there would be drill after the meeting.  Oddly enough, whenever the Pilgrims gathered for drill or other meeting, they were always interrupted by Indians.

    This morning the same thing happened, although there was only one of them this time.  Unlike the previous times, “a tall, straight man, the hair of his head black, long behind, only short before, none on his face at all” appeared at the top of Watson’s hill, and then walked straight into the settlement, and down the main street (such as it was) toward the meeting house, where the women and children had been assembled in case of attack.  He showed no hesitation or fear, although he was “stark naked, only a leather about his waist, with a fringe about a span [i.e., about nine inches] long or little more.”  When a cold breeze came up, the settlers threw “a horseman’s coat” over him to keep him warm.  He was armed with “a bow and two arrows, the one headed, the other unheaded.”  No special significance was attached to this at the time, but they may have been signs of the alternatives of war and peace.    Some of the men came out of the meeting house and blocked the entrance.  This strange visitor “saluted us in English” and with great enthusiasm spoke the now famous words:

    “Welcome, Englishmen!”

    Bradford wrote that the Pilgrims offered him something to eat, and he immediately asked for beer.  Since their beer had run out, the settlers offered him some “strong water” (probably the aqua vitae [brandy]) along with some “biscuit, and butter, and cheese, and pudding, and a piece of mallard, all of which he liked well” (Mourt’s Relation).

    “He introduced himself as Samoset -- at least that is how the Pilgrims heard it -- but he may actually have been telling them his English name, Somerset.  He was not, he explained in broken English, from this part of New England.  He was a sachem from Pemaquid Point in Maine, near Monhegan Island, a region frequented by English fishermen.  It was from these fishermen, many of whom he named, that he’d learned to speak English” (Philbrick, Mayflower, 93-94).  He saw the Mayflower in the harbour, from a distance, and supposed it to be a fishing vessel.  He told the Governor that the plantation was formerly called “Patuxet” [or Apaum], “and that about four years ago all the inhabitants died of an extraordinary plague, and there is neither man, woman, nor child remaining, as indeed we have found none, so as there is none to hinder our possession, or to lay claim unto it.  All the afternoon was spent in communication with him; we would gladly have been rid of him at night, but he was not willing to go this night.”  Governor Carver purposed sending him aboard the ship at night, “and he was well content to go and went aboard the shallop to come to the ship, but the wind was high and water scant [low], that [the shallop] could not return back.  We lodged him that night at Stephen Hopkins’s house, and watched him” (Mourt’s Relation).

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