William Bradford

from Of Plymouth Plantation

Statue of William Bradford

William Bradford


William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation is a history of the Plymouth colony and the experiences of the Pilgrims who made their way on the Mayflower in 1620. The selections included here describe the hardships they faced, both on sea and land, as well as an account of the first Thanksgiving. Life was much more difficult than the Puritans imagined it would be, and Bradford frequently calls attention to hunger, disease, and lack of resources that the early settlers perpetually faced.

Bradford also discusses the signing of the Mayflower Compact, which served as a legal and civil document, or covenant, that bound the colonists together with God and one another. Not everyone on board the Mayflower identified as Puritan, and Bradford frequently discusses the challenges of living with people of different beliefs, whether it was other English settlers or the Native American population. Thomas Morton, whose New English Canaan also appears in this anthology, was especially challenging to Bradford and his Pilgrim community. Community is an especially important idea for Bradford, which makes sense given the challenges of living in the New World. As you read, think about the ways that Bradford defines his ideal community, and how each of the episodes that he presents teaches his Puritan audience about how to make their community a success.

Discussion Questions

  • What does Bradford teach us about what it means to be a Puritan?
  • How is Bradford constructing himself as a figure in the text? What impressions about himself do you think he is trying to give his audience?
  • What do you make of the incidents Bradford has chosen to include in his history? Why might these particular events be important?
  • How does Bradford define his ideal community? How does he suggest this community could be made real? What challenges does he identify?
  • How does Bradford depict the “New World” and its inhabitants? What do you make of these depictions?

Of Plymouth Plantation Book 1, Chapter 9: Of their voyage, and how they passed the sea; and of their safe arrival at Cape Cod

Of their voyage, & how they passed ye sea, and of their safe arrivall at Cape Codd.

Septr: 6. These troubles being blowne over, and now all being compacte togeather in one shipe, they put to sea againe with a prosperus winde, which continued diverse days togeather, which was some incouragmente unto them; yet according to ye usuall manner many were afflicted with sea-sicknes. And I may not omite here a spetiall worke of Gods providence. There was a proud & very profane young man, one of ye sea-men, of a lustie, able body, which made him the more haughty; he would allway be contemning ye poore people in their sicknes, & cursing them daily with greēous execrations, and did not let to tell them, that he hoped to help to cast halfe of them over board before they came to their journey’s end, and to make merry with what they had; and if he were by any gently reproved, he would curse and swear most bitterly. But it pleased God before they came halfe seas over, to smite this young man with a greeveous disease, of which he died in a desperate manner, and so was him selfe ye first yt was throwne overbord. Thus his curses light on his own head; and it was an astonishment to all his fellows, for they noted it to be ye just hand of God upon him.

After they had enjoyed faire winds and weather for a season, they were incountred many times with crosse winds, and mette with many feirce stormes, with which yeshipe was shroudly shaken, and her upper works made very leakie; and one of the main beams in ye midd ships was bowed & creaked, which put them in some fear that ye ship could not be able to performe ye voyage. So some of ye chief of ye company, perceiveing ye mariners to feare ye sufficiency of ye ship, as appeared by their mutterings, they entred into serious consulltation with ye mr. & other officers of ye ship, to consider in time of ye danger; and rather to returne then to cast them selves into a desperate & inevitable perill. And truly there was great distraction & differance of opinion amongst ye mariners them selves; faine would they doe what could be done for their wages sake, (being now halfe the seas over,) and on ye other hand they were loath to hazard their lives too desperately. But in examining of all opinions, the mr. & others affirmed they knew ye ship to be strong & firm under water; and for the buckling of ye main beam, there was a great iron screw ye passengers brought out of Holland, which would raise ye beam into his place; ye which being done, the carpenter & mr. affirmed that with a post put under it, set firm in ye lower deck, & otherways bound, he would make it sufficient. And as for ye decks & upper works they would caulk them as well as they could, and though with ye working of ye ship they would not long keep stanch, yet there would otherwise be no great danger, if they did not overpress her with sails. So they com̅mitted them selves to ye will of God, & resolved to proceed. In sundrie of these storms the winds were so fierce, & ye seas so high, as they could not beare a knot of sail, but were forced to hull, for diverce days togither. And in one of them, as they thus lay at hull, in a mighty storm, a lusty young man (called John Howland) coming upon some occasion above ye grattings, was, with a seele of the shipe throwne into [ye] sea; but it pleased God yet he caught hold of ye top-saile halliards, which hunge over board, & rane out at length; yet he held his hould (though he was sundrie fadomes under water) till he was hald up by ye same rope to ye brime of ye water, and then with a boat hooke & other means got into yeshipe againe, & his life saved; and though he was something ill with it, yet he lived many years after, and became a profitable member both in church & com̅one wealthe. In all this viage ther died but one of ye passengers, which was William Butten, a youth, servant to Samuell Fuller, when they drew near ye coast. But to omite other things, (that I may be breefe,) after longe beating at sea they fell with that land which is called Cape Cod; the which being made & certainly knowne to be it, they were not a litle joyfull. After some deliberation had amongst them selves & with ye mr. of ye ship, they tacked aboute and resolved to stande for ye southward (ye wind & weather being faire) to finde some place aboute Hudsons river for their habitation. But after they had sailed yt course aboute halfe ye day, they fell amongst deangerous shoulds and roring breakers, and they were so farr intangled ther with as they conceived them selves in great danger; & ye wind shrinking upon them withall, they resolved to bear up againe for the Cape, and thought them selves hapy to gett out of those dangers before night overtooke them, as by Gods providence they did. And e next day they gott into ye Cape-harbor wher they ridd in saftie. A word or too by e way of this cape; it was thus first named by Capten Gosnole & his company, Anno: 1602, and after by Capten Smith was caled Cape James; but it retains ye former name amongst seamen. Also yt pointe which first shewed those dangerous shoulds unto them, they called Pointe Care, & Tuckers Terrour; but ye French & Dutch to this day call it Malabarr, by reason of those perilous shoulds, and ye losses they have suffered their. Being thus arived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees & blessed ye God of heaven, who had brought them over yvast & furious ocean, and delivered them from all ye periles & miseries therof, againe to set their feete on ye firme and stable earth, their proper elemente. And no marvell if they were thus joyefull, seeing wise Seneca was so affected with sailing a few miles on ye coast of his owne Italy; as he affirmed, that he had rather remaine twentie years on his way by land, then pass by sea to any place in a short time; so tedious & dreadfull was ye same unto him. But hear I cannot but stay and make a pause, and stand half amased at this poore peoples presente condition; and so I thinke will the reader too, when he well considers ye same. Being thus passed ye vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before in their preparation (as may be remembred by yt which wente efore), they had now no freinds to wellcome them, nor inns to entertaine or refresh their weatherbeaten bodys, no houses or much less townes to repaire too, to seeke for succoure. It is recorded in scripture[AH] as a mercie to ye apostle & his shipwraked company, yt the barbarians shewed them no smale kindnes in refreshing them, but these savage barbarians, when they mette with them (as after will appeare) were readier to fill their sids full of arrows then otherwise. And for ye season it was winter, and they that know ye winters of yt cuntrie know them to be sharp & violent, & subjecte to cruell & feirce stormes, deangerous to travill to known places, much more to serch an unknown coast. Besids, what could they see but a hidious & desolate wildernes, full of wild beasts & willd men? and what multituds ther might be of them they knew not. Nether could they, as it were, goe up to ye tope of Pisgah, to vew from this willdernes a more goodly cuntrie to feed their hops; for which way soever they turnd their eys (save upward to ye heavens) they could have litle solace or content in respecte of any outward objects. For sum̅er being done, all things stand upon them with a wetherbeaten face; and ye whole countrie, full of woods & thickets, represented a wild & savage heiw. If they looked behind them, ther was ye mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a maine barr & goulfe to seperate them from all ye civill parts of ye world. If it be said they had a ship to sucour them, it is trew; but what heard they daly from ye mr. & company? but yt with speede they should looke out a place with their shallop, wher they would be at some near distance; for ye season was shuch as he would not stirr from thence till a safe harbor was discovered by them wher they would be, and he might goe without danger; and that victells consumed apace, but he must & would keepe sufficient for them selves & their returne. Yea, it was muttered by some, that if they gott not a place in time, they would turne them & their goods ashore & leave them. Let it also be considred what weake hopes of supply & succoure they left behinde them, yt might bear up their minds in this sade condition and trialls they were under; and they could not but be very smale. It is true, indeed, ye affections & love of their brethren at Leyden was cordiall & entire towards them, but they had litle power to help them, or them selves; and how ye case stode betweene them & ye marchants at their coming away, hath allready been declared. What could now sustaine them but the spirite of God & his grace? May not & ought not the children of these fathers rightly say: Our faithers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this willdernes;[AI] but they cried unto ye Lord, and he heard their voyce, and looked on their adversitie, &c. Let them therfore praise ye Lord, because he is good, & his mercies endure for ever. Yea, let them which have been redeemed of ye Lord, shew how he hath delivered them from ye hand of ye oppressour. When they wandered in ye deserte willdernes out of ye way, and found no citie to dwell in, both hungrie, & thirstie, their sowle was overwhelmed in them. Let them confess before ye Lord his loving kindnes, and his wonderfull works before ye sons of men.

Chapter 10

Showing how they sought out a place of habitation, and what befell them theraboute.

[48] Being thus arrived at Cap-Cod ye 11. of November, and necessity calling them to looke out a place for habitation, (as well as the masters & mariners importunitie,) they having brought a large shalop with them out of England, stowed in quarters in ye ship, they now got her out & set their carpenters to work to trim her up; but being much bruised & shattered in ye ship with foul weather, they saw she would be long in mending. Wherupon a few of them tendered them selves to go by land and discover those nearest places, whilst ye shallop was in mending; and ye rather because as they went into yt harbor there seemed to be an opening some 2 or 3 leagues of, which ye master judged to be a river. It was conceived there might be some danger in ye attempt, yet seeing them resolute, they were permited to go, being 16 of them well armed, under ye conduct of Captain Standish, having such instructions given them as was thought meet. They set forth ye 15 of November: and when they had marched about ye space of a mile by ye sea side, they espied 5 or 6 persons with a dog coming towards them, who were savages; but they fled from them, & ran up into ye woods, and ye English followed them, partly to see if they could speak with them, and partly to discover if there might not be more of them lying in ambush. But ye Indians seeing them selves thus followed, they againe forsooke the woods, & ran away on ye sands as hard as they could, so as they could not come near them, but followed them by ytrack of their feet sundrie miles, and saw that they had come the same way. So, night coming on, they made their rendevous & set out their sentinels, and rested in quiete y1 night, and the next morning followed their tract till they had headed a great creek, & so left the sands, & turned an other way into ywoods. But they still followed them by guess, hoping to find their dwellings; but they soon lost both them & themselves, falling into such thickets as were ready to tear their cloaths & armore in pieces, but were most distressed for want of drink. But at length they found water & refreshed them selves, being ye first New-England water they drunk of, and was now in their great thirste as pleasant unto them as wine or beer had been in for-times. Afterwards they directed their course to come to ye other shore, for they knew it was a neck of land they were to cross over, and so at length got to ysea-side, and marched to this supposed river, & by ye way found a pond of clear fresh water, and shortly after a good quantity of clear ground wher ye Indians had formerly set corn, and some of their graves. And proceeding further they saw new-stubble where core had been set ye same year, also they found where lately a house had been, where some planks and a great kettle was remaining, and heaps of sand newly padled with their hands, which they, digging up, found in them diverse fair Indian baskets filled with corn, and some in ears, fair and good, of diverse colours, which seemed to them a very goodly sight, (having never seen any such before). This was near ye place of that supposed river they came to seek; unto which they went and found it to open it self into 2 arms with a high cliff of sand in ye entrance, but more like to be creeks of salt water than any fresh, for ought they saw; and that there was good harborage for their shallop; leaving it further to be discovered by their shallop when she was ready. So their time limited them being expired, they returned to ye ship, least they should be in fear of their safety; and took with them part of ye corn, and buried up ye rest, and so like ye men from Eshcoll carried with them of ye fruits of ye land, & showed their brethren; of which, & their return, they were marvelously glad, and their hearts encouraged.

After this, ye shallop being got ready, they set out again for ye better discovery of this place, & ye mr. of ye ship desired to go him self, so there went some 30 men, but found it to be no harbor for ships but only for boats; there was also found 2 of their houses covered with mats, & sundrie of their implements in them, but yepeople were run away & could not be seen; also there was found more of their corn, & of their beans of various collours. The corn & beans they brought away, purposing to give them full satisfaction when they should meet with any of them (as about some 6 months afterward they did, to their good content). And here is to be noted a special providence of God, and a great mercy to this poor people, that here they got seed to plant them corn ye next year, or else they might have starved, for they had none, nor any likelihood to get any till ye season had been past (as ye sequel did manifest). Neither is it likely they had had this, if ye first voyage had not been made, for the ground was now all covered with snow, & hard frozen. But the Lord is never wanting unto His in their greatest needs; let His holy name have all ye praise.

The month of November being spent in these affairs, & much foul weather falling in, the 6 of December: they sente out their shallop again with 10 of their principal men, & some sea men, upon further discovery, intending to circulate that deep bay of Cape Cod. The weather was very cold, & it froze so hard as ye spray of ye sea lighting on their coats, they were as if they had been glazed; yet that night betimes they got down into ye bottom of ye bay, and as they drew near ye shore they saw some 10 or 12 Indians very busy about something. They landed about a league or 2 from them, and had much ado to put ashore any where, it lay so full of flats. Being landed, it grew late, and they made them selves a barricade with logs & boughs as well as they could in ye time, & set out their sentinel & betooke them to rest, and saw ye smoke of ye fire ye savages made y’ night. When morning was come they divided their company, some to coast along ye shore in ye boat, and the rest marched through ye woods to see ye land, if any fit place might be for their dwelling. They came also to ye place where they saw the Indans ye night before, & found they had been cutting up a great fish like a grampus, being some 2 inches thick of fate like a hogg, some pieces whereof they had left by ye way; and ye shallop found 2 more of these fishes dead on ye sands, a thing usuall after storms in y’ place, by reason of ye great flats of sand that lye of. So they ranged up and down all y’ day, but found no people, nor any place they liked. When ye sun grew low, they hasted out of ye woods to meet with their shallop, to whom they made signs to come to them into a creek hardby, the which they did at highwater; of which they were very glad, for they had not seen each other all y’ day, since ye morning. So they made them a barricade (as usually they did every night) with logs, stakes, & thick pine boughs, ye height of a man, leaving it open to leeward, partly to shelter them from ye cold & wind (making their fire in ye middle, & lying round about it), and partly to defend them from any sudden assaults of ye savages, if they should surround them. So being very weary, they betooke them to rest. But about midnight,  they heard a hideous & great cry, and their sentinel caled, “Arm, arm”; so they bestirred them & stood to their arms, & shote of a couple of muskets, and then the noise ceased. They concluded it was a company of wolves, or such like wild beasts; for one of ye sea men tould them he had often heard shuch a noyse in New-found land. So they rested till about 5 of ye clock in the morning; for ye tide, & ther purposs to goe from thence, made them be stiring betimes. So after praier they prepared for breakfast, and it being day dawning, it was thought best to be earring things downe to ye boate. But some said it was not best to carrie ye arms downe, others said they would be the readier, for they had lapped them up in their coats from ye dew. But some 3 or 4 would not carry theirs till they went them selves, yet as it fell out, ye water being not high enough, they layed them downe on ye banke side, & came up to breakfast. But presently, all on ye sudden, they heard a great & strange cry, which they knew to be the same voices they heard in ye night, though they varied their notes, & one of their company being abroad came running in, & cried, “Men, Indians, Indians”; and withall, their arrows came flying amongst them. Their men ran with all speed to recover their arms, as by ye good providence of God they did. In ye mean time, of those that were ther ready, tow muskets were discharged at them, & 2 more stood ready in ye entrance of their rendezvous, but were commanded not to shoot till they could take full aim at them; & ye other 2 charged again with all speed, for there were only 4 had arms there, & defended ye barricade which was first assalted. The cry of ye Indians was dreadfull, especially when they saw their men run out of ye rendezvous towards ye shallop, to recover their arms, the Indians wheeling about upon them. But some running out with coats of mail on, & cutlasses in their hands, they soon got their arms, & let fly amongst them, and quickly stopped their violence. Yet there was a lusty man, and no less valiant, stood behind a tree within half a musket shot, and let his arrows fly at them. He was seen shoot 3 arrows, which were all avoided. He stood 3 shot of a musket, till one taking full aim at him, and made ye bark or splinters of ye tree fly about his ears, after which he gave an extraordinary shriek, and away they went all of them. They left some to keep ye shallop, and followed them about a quarter of a mille, and shouted once or twice, and shot of 2 or 3 pieces, & so returned. This they did, that they might conceive that they were not afraid of them or any way discouraged. Thus it pleased God to vanquish their enemies, and give them deliverance; and by His special providence so to dispose that not any one of them were either hurt, or hit, though their arrows came close by them, & on every side them, and sundry of their coats, which hung up in ye barricade, were shot through & through. Aterwards they gave God solemn thanks & praise for their deliverance, & gathered up a bundle of their arrows, & sent them into England afterward by ye mr. of ye ship, and called that place ye first encounter. From hence they departed, & costed all along, but discerned no place likely for harbor; & therefore hasted to a place that their pilot, (one Mr. Coppin who had been in ye country before) did assure them was a good harbor, which he had been in, and they might fetch it before night; of which they were glad, for it began to be foul weather. After some hours sailing, it began to snow & rain, & about ye middle of ye afternoon, ye wind increased, & ye sea became very rough, and they broke their rudder, & it was as much as 2 men could do to steer her with a couple of oars. But their pilot bad them be of good cheer, for he saw ye harbor; but ye storm increasing, & night drawing on, they bore what sail they could to get in, while they could see. But herewith they broke their mast in 3 pieces, & their sail fell over bord, in a very grown sea, so as they had like to have been cast away; yet by Gods mercy they recovered them selves, & having ye floud with them, struck into ye harbore. But when it came too, ye pilot was deceived in ye place, and said, ye Lord be mercifull unto them, for his eyes never saw y’ place before; & he & the mr. mate would have run her ashore, in a cove full of breakers, before ye winde. But a lusty seaman which steered, bad those which rowed, if they were men, about with her, or else they were all cast away; the which they did with speed. So he bid them be of good cheer & row lustly, for there was a fair sound before them, & he doubted not but they should find one place or other wher they might ride in safety. And though it was very dark, and rained sore, yet in ye end they got under ye lee of a small island, and remained there all y’ night in safety. But they knew not this to be an island till morning, but were divided in their minds; some would keep ye boat for fear they might be amongst ye Indians; others were so weak and cold, they could not endure, but got a shore, & with much ado got fire, (all things being so wet,) and ye rest were glad to come to them; for after midnight ye wind shifted to the north-west, & it froze hard. But though this had been a day & night of much trouble & danger unto them, yet God gave them a morning of comfort & refreshing (as usually he doth to his children), for ye next day was a fair sunshining day, and they found them selves to be on an island secure from ye Indians, where they might dry their stuff, fix their pieces, & rest them selves, and gave God thanks for his mercies, in their manifould deliverances. And this being the last day of ye weeke, they prepared there to keep ye Sabbath. On Monday they sounded ye harbor, and found it fit for shipping; and marched into ye land, & found diverse cornfields, & little running brooks, a place (as they supposed) fit for situation; at least it was ye best they could find, and ye season, & their present necessity, made them glad to accept of it. So they returned to their ship againe with this news to ye rest of their people, which did much comfort their hearts.

On ye 15 of December: they weighed anchor to go to ye place they had discovered, & came within 2 leagues of it, but were faine to bear up againe; but ye 16 day ye winde came faire, and they arrived safe in this harbor. And after wards took better view of ye place, and resolved where to pitch their dwelling; and ye 25 day began to erect ye first house for common use to receive them and their goods.

The 2. Booke

The rest of this History (if God give me life, & opportunity) I shall, for brevity’s sake, handle by way of annalls, noting only the heads of principal things, and passages as they fell in order of time, and may seem to be profitable to know, or to make use of. And this may be as ye 2. Booke.

The remainder of Anno: 1620.

I shall a little return back and begin with a combination made by them before they came ashore, being ye first foundation of their government in this place; occasioned partly by ye discontented & mutinous speeches that some of the strangers amongst them had let fall from them in ye ship — That when they came a shore they would use their own liberty; for none had power to command them, the patent they had being for Virginia, and not for New-England, which belonged to an other Government, with which ye Virginia Company had nothing to do. And partly that such an act by them done (this their condition considered) might be as firm as any patent, and in some respects more sure.

The form was as followeth.

In ye name of God, Amen. We whose names are under writer the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by ye grace of God, of Great Britain, France, & Ireland king, defender of ye faith, &c, having undertaken, for ye glory of God, and advancement of ye Christian faith, and honour of our king & country, a voyage to plant ye first colony in ye Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly & mutually in ye presence of God, and one of another, covenant & combine our selves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering & preservation & furtherance of ye ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just & equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, & offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet & convenient for ye general good of ye Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape-Cod ye 11- of November, in ye year of ye reign of our sovereign lord, King James, of England, France, & Ireland ye eighteenth, and of Scotland ye fiftie fourth. Anno: Dom. 1620.

After this they chose, or rather confirmed, Mr. John Carver (a man godly & well approved amongst them) their Governor for that year. And after they had provided a place for their goods, or common store, (which were long in unloading for want of boats, foulness of winter weather, and sickness of diverse,) and begun some small cottages for their habitation, as time would admit, they met and consulted of laws & orders, both for their civill & military Goverment, as ye necessity of their condition did require, still adding therunto as urgent occasion in several times, and as cases did require.

In these hard & difficult beginnings they found some discontents & murmurings arise amongst some, and mutinous speeches & carriages in other; but they were soon quelled & overcome by ye wisdome, patience, and just & equal carriage of things by ye Governor and better part, clave faithfully together in ye main. But that which was most sad & lamentable was, that in 2 or 3 months time half of their company died, especially in Jan & February, being ye depth of winter, and wanting houses & other comforts; being infected with ye scurvy & other diseases, which this long voyage & their inacomodate condition had brought upon them; so as there died some times 2 or 3 of a day, in ye foresaid time; that of 100 & odd persons, scarce 50 remained. And of these in ye time of most distress, there was but 6 or 7 sound persons, who, to their great comendations be it spoken, spared no pains, night nor day, but with abundance of toil and hazard of their own health, fetched them wood, made them fires, dressed them meat, made their beads, washed their lothsome cloaths, cloathed & uncloathed them; in a word, did all ye homely & necessary offices for them what dainty & queasy stomacks cannot endure to hear named; and all this willingly & cheerfully, without any grudging in ye least, shewing herein their true love unto their friends & brethren. A rare example & worthy to be rememebred. Two of these 7 were Mr. William Brewster, the reverend Elder, & Myles Standish, their Captain & military commander, unto whom my self, & many others, were much beholden in our low & sick condition. And yet the Lord so upheld these persons, as in this generall calamity they were not at all infected either with sickness, or lameness. And what I have said of these, I may say of many others who dyed in this generall visitation, & others yet living, that whilst they had health, yea, or any strength continuing, they were not wanting to any that had need of them. And I doute not but their recompence is with ye Lord.

But I may not hear pass by an other remarkable passage not to be forgotten. As this calamity fell among ye passengers that were to be left here to plant, and were hasted a shore and made to drinke water, that ye sea-men might have ye more bear, and one * in his sicknes desiring but a small can of beer, it was answered, that if he were their own father he should have none; the disease begane to fall amongst them also, so as allmost halfe of their company died before they went away, and many of their officers and lustyest men, as ye boatson, gunner, 3 quarter-maisters, the cooke, & others. At weh ye mr. was something strucken and sent to ye sick ashore and told ye Govr he should send for beer for them that had need of it, though he drunke water homeward bound. But now amongst his company there was far another kind of carriage in this misery then amongst ye passengers; for they that before had been boon companions in drinking & jollity in ye time of their health & wellfare, began now to desert one another in this calamity, saying they would not hazard their lives for them, they should be infected by coming to help them in their cabins, and so, after they came to die by it, would do little or nothing for them, but if they died let them die. But such of ye passengers as were yet aboard showed them what mercy they could, made some of their hearts relent, as ye boatson (& some others), who was a proud young man, and would often curse & scoff at ye passengers; but when he grew weak, they had compassion on him and helped him; then he confessed he did not deserve it at their hands, he had abused them in word & deed. O! saith he, you, I now see, shew your love like Christians indeed one to another, but we let one another lie & die like dogs. Another lay cursing his wife, saying if it had not ben for her he had never come this unlucky voyage, and anone cursing his fellows, saying he had done this & that, for some of them, he had spente so much, & so much, amongst them, and they were now weary of him, and did not help him, having need. Another gave his companion all he had, if he died, to help him in his weaknes; he went and got a little spice & made him a mess of meat once or twise, and be cause he died not so soone as he expected, he went amongst his fellows, & swore ye rogue would cousen him, he would see him choked before he made him any more meate; and yet ye poor fellow died before morning.

All this while ye Indians came skulking about them, and would sometimes show them selves aloof of, but when any approached near them, they would run away. And once they stole away their tools where they had been at work, & were gone to dinner. But about ye 16 of March a certain Indian came boldly amongst them, and spoke to them in broken English, which they could well understand, but marvelled at it. At length they understood by discourse with him, that he was not of these parts, but belonged to ye eastern parts, where some English-ships came to fish, with whom he was acquainted, & could name sundrie of them by their names, amongst whom he had got his language. He became profitable to them in acquainting them with many things concerning ye state of ye country in ye east-parts where he lived, which was afterwards profitable unto them; as also of ye people hear, of their names, number, & strength; of their situation & distance from this place, and who was chief amongst them. His name was Samasel; he told them also of another Indian whosw name was Squanto, a native of this place, who had been in England & could speak better English then him self. Being, after some time of entertainment & gifts, dismissed, a while after he came again, & 5 more with him, & they brought againe all ye tools that were stolen away before, and made way for ye coming of their great Sachem, called Massasoyl; who, about 4 or 5 days after, came with the chief of his friends & other attendance, with the aforesaid Squanto. With whom, after friendly entertainment, & some gifts given him, they made a peace with him (which hath now continued this 24 years) in these terms.

1. That neither he nor any of his, should injure or do hurt to any of their people. 2. That if any of his did any hurt to any of theirs, he should send ye offender, that they might punish him. 3. That if any thing were taken away from any of theirs, he should cause it to be restored; and they should do ye like to his. 4. If any did unjustly war against him, they would aid him; if any did warr against them, he should aide them. 5. He should send to his neighbours confederates, to certify them of this, that they might not wrong them, but might be likewise comprised in ye conditions of peace. 6. That when their men came to them, they should leave their bows & arrows behind them.

After these things he returned to his place caled Sowams, some 40 mile from this place, but Squanto continued with them, and was their interpreter, and was a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation. He directed them how to set their corn, where to take fish, and to procure other comodities, and was also their pilot to bring them to unknowne places for their profit, and never left them till he died. He was a native of this place, & scarce any left alive besids him selfe. He was carried away with diverse others by one Hunt, a mr. of a ship, who thought to sell them for slaves in Spain; but he got away for England, and was entertained by a merchant in London, & employed to New-foundland & other parts, & lastly brought hither into these parts by one Mr. Dermer, a gentle-man imployed by Sr. Ferdinando Gorges & others, for discovery, & other designes in these parts. Of whom I shall say some thing, because it is mentioned in a booke set forth Anno: 1622. by ye Presidente & Counsell for New-England,* that he made ye peace betweene ye savages of these parts & ye English; of which this plantation, as it is intimated, had ye benefite. But what a peace it was, may apeare by what befell him & his men.

This Mr. Dermer was hear the same year that these people came, as appears by a relation written by him, & given me by a friend, bearing date June 30. Anno 1620. And they came in November: following, so there was but 4 months difference. In which relation to his honored freind, he hath these passages of this very place.

I will first begin (saith he) wth that place from whence Squanto, or Tisquantem, was taken away; w* in Cap: Smith’s map is called Plymouth : and I would that Plymouth had ye like commodities. I would that the first plantation might hear be seated, if ther come to the number of 50. persons, or upward. Otherwise at Charlton, because there ye savages are less to be feared. The Pocanawkits, which live to ye west of Plymouth, bear an inveterate malice to ye English, and are of more streingth then all ye savags from thence to Penobscote. Their desire of revenge was occasioned by an English man, who having many of them on board, made a great slaughter with their murderers & small shot, when as (they say) they offered no injury on their parts. Whether they were English or no, it may be doubted; yet they believe they were, for ye Frenche have so possest them; for which cause Squant o caiiot deney but they would have killed me when I was at Namasket, had he not entreated hard for me. The soil of ye borders of this great bay, may be compared to most of ye plantations which I have seene in Virginia. The land is of diverce sorts; for Patuxite is a hardy but strong soyle, Nawsel & Saughtughtett are for ye most part a blakish & deep mould, much like that wher groweth ye best Tobaco in Virginia. In ye bottom of y’ great bay is store of Cod & bass, or mullet, &c.

But above all he commends Pacanawkite for ye richest soil , and much open ground fit for English grain, &c.

Massachussets is about 9 leagues from Plymouth, & situate in ye mids betweene both, is full of islands & peninsulas very fertile for ye most parte.

With sundrie such relations which I forbear to transcribe, being now better knowne then they were to him.

He was taken prisoner by ye Indeins at Manamoiak (a place not far from hence, now well knowne). He gave them what they demanded for his liberty, but when they had got what they desired, they kept him still & endevored to kill his men; but he was freed by seizing on some of them, and kept them bound till they gave him a canoes load of corn. Of which, see Purch: lib. 9. fol. 1778. But this was Anno: 1619.

After ye writing of ye former relation he came to ye He of Capawack (which lies south of this place in ye way to Virginia), and ye foresaid Squanto with him, where he going a shore amongst ye Indians to trade, as he used to doe, was betrayed & assaulted by them, & all his men slain, but one that kept the boat; but him selfe got aboard very sore wounded, & they had cut of his head upon ye cuddy of his boat, had not ye man rescued him with a sword. And so they got away, & made shift to get into Virginia, where he died; whether of his wounds or ye diseases of ye country, or both togeather, is uncertain. By all which it may appear how far these people were from peace, and with what danger this plantation was begun, save as ye powerfull hand of the Lord did protect them. These things * were partly the reason why they kept aloof & were so long before they came to the English. An other reason (as after themselves made know) was how aboute 3 years before, a French-ship was cast away at Cape-Cod, but ye men got ashore, & saved their lives, and much of their victuals, & other goods; but after ye Indians heard of it, they gathered togeather from these parts, and never left watching & dogging them till they got advantage, and kild them all but 3 or 4 which they kept, & sent from one Sachem to another, to make sport with, and used them worse than slaves; (of which ye foresaid Mr. Dermer redeemed 2 of them;) and they conceived this ship was now come to revenge it.

Also, (as after was made knowne,) before they came to ye English to make friendship, they got all the Powachs of ye country, for 3 days together, in a horrid and devilish manner to curse & execrate them with their conjurations, which asembly & service they held in a dark & dismal swamp.

But to return. The spring now approaching, it pleased God the mortality began to cease amongst them, and ye sick and lame recovered apace, which put as it were new life into them; though they had borne their sad affliction with much patience & contentednes, as I think any people could do. But it was ye Lord which upheld them, and had beforehand prepared them; many having long borne ye yoke, yea from their youth. Many other smaller matters I omit, sundrie of them having been allready published in a Journal made by one of ye company; and some other passages of journeys and relations already published, to which I refer those that are willing to know them more particularly. And being now come to ye 25. of March I shall begine ye year 1621.

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They began now to gather in ye small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health & strength, and had all things in good plenty; for as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod, & bass, & other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All ye summer there was no want. And now began to come in store of foul, as winter aproached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides water foul, there was great store of wild Turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, &c. Besides they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to y’ proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largly of their plenty hear to their friends in England, which were not feigned, but true reports.

Of Plymouth Plantation Book 2, Chapter 19: Anno Domini 1628

…[T]her came over one Captaine Wolastone, (a man of pretie parts,) and with him 3. or 4. more of some eminencie, who brought with them a great many servants, with provissions & other implments for to begine a plantation; and pitched them selves in a place within the Massachusets, which they called, after their Captains name, Mount-Wollaston. Amongst whom was one Mr. Morton, who, it should seeme, had some small adventure (of his owne or other mens) amongst them; but had litle respecte [159] amongst them, and was sleghted by ye meanest servants. Haveing continued ther some time, and not finding things to answer their expectations, nor profite to arise as they looked for, Captaine Wollaston takes a great part of ye sarvants, and transports them to Virginia, wher he puts them of at good rates, selling their time to other men; and writs back to one Mr. Rassdall, one of his cheefe partners, and accounted their marchant, to bring another parte of them to Verginia likewise, intending to put them of ther as he had done yerest. And he, wth ye consente of ye said Rasdall, appoynted one Fitcher to be his Livetenante, and governe ye remaines of ye plantation, till he or Rasdall returned to take further order theraboute. But this Morton abovesaid, haveing more craft then honestie, (who had been a kind of petie-fogger, of Furnefells Inne,) in ye others absence, watches an oppertunitie, (commons being but hard amongst them,) and gott some strong drinck & other junkats, & made them a feast; and after they were merie, he begane to tell them, he would give them good counsell. You see (saith he) that many of your fellows are carried to Virginia; and if you stay till this Rasdall returne, you will also be carried away and sould for slaves with ye rest. Therfore I would advise you to thruste out this Levetenant Fitcher; and I, having a parte in the plantation, will receive you as my partners and consociats; so may you be free from service, and we will converse, trad, plante, & live togeather as equalls, & supporte & protecte one another, or to like effecte. This counsell was easily received; so they tooke oppertunitie, and thrust Levetenante Fitcher out a dores, and would suffer him to come no more amongst them, but forct him to seeke bread to eate, and other releefe from his neigbours, till he could gett passages for England. After this they fell to great licenciousnes, and led a dissolute life, powering out them selves into all profanenes. And Morton became lord of misrule, and maintained (as it were) a schoole of Athisme. And after they had gott some good into their hands, and gott much by trading with ye Indeans, they spent it as vainly, in quaffing & drinking both wine & strong waters in great exsess, and, as some reported, 10li. worth in a morning. They allso set up a May-pole, drinking and dancing aboute it many days togeather, inviting the Indean women, for their consorts, dancing and frisking togither, (like so many fairies, or furies rather,) and worse practises. As if they had anew revived & celebrated the feasts of yeRoman Goddes Flora, or ye beasly practieses of ye madd Bacchinalians. Morton likwise (to shew his poetrie) composed sundry rimes & verses, some tending to lasciviousnes, and others to yedetraction & scandall of some persons, which he affixed to this idle or idoll May-polle. They chainged allso the name of their place, and in stead of calling it Mounte Wollaston, they call it Merie-mounte, [160] as if this joylity would have lasted ever. But this continued not long, for after Morton was sent for England, (as follows to be declared,) shortly after came over that worthy gentlman, Mr. John Indecott, who brought over a patent under ye broad seall, for yegovermente of ye Massachusets, who visiting those parts caused yt May-polle to be cutt downe, and rebuked them for their profannes, and admonished them to looke ther should be better walking; so they now, or others, changed ye name of their place againe, and called it Mounte-Dagon.

Now to maintaine this riotous prodigallitie and profuse excess, Morton, thinking him selfe lawless, and hearing what gaine ye French & fisher-men made by trading of peeces, powder, & shotte to ye Indeans, he, as ye head of this consortship, begane ye practise of ye same in these parts; and first he taught them how to use them, to charge, & discharg, and what proportion of powder to give ye peece, according to ye sise or bignes of ye same; and what shotte to use for foule, and what for deare. And having thus instructed them, he imployed some of them to hunte & fowle for him, so as they became farr more active in that imploymente then any of ye English, by reason of ther swiftnes of foote, & nimblnes of body, being also quick-sighted, and by continuall exercise well knowing ye hants of all sorts of game. So as when they saw ye execution that a peece would doe, and ye benefite that might come by ye same, they became madd, as it were, after them, and would not stick to give any prise they could attaine too for them; accounting their bowes & arrowes but bables in comparison of them.

And here I may take occasion to bewaile ye mischefe that this wicked man began in these parts, and which since base covetousnes prevailing in men that should know better, has now at length gott ye upper hand, and made this thing com̅one, notwithstanding any laws to ye contrary; so as yeIndeans are full of peeces all over, both fouling peeces, muskets, pistols, &c. They have also their moulds to make shotte, of all sorts, as muskett bulletts, pistoll bullets, swane & gose shote, & of smaler sorts; yea, some have seen them have their scruplats to make scrupins them selves, when they wante them, with sundery other implements, wherwith they are ordinarily better fited & furnished then ye English them selves. Yea, it is well knowne that they will have powder & shot, when the English want it, nor cannot gett it; and yt in a time of warr or danger, as experience hath manifested, that when lead hath been scarce, and men for their owne defence would gladly have given a groat a l which is dear enoughe, yet hath it bene bought up & sent to other places, and sould to shuch as trade it with ye Indeans, at 12. pence ye li.; and it is like they give 3. or 4.s ye pound, for they will have it at any rate. And these things have been done in ye same times, when some of their neigbours & freinds are daly killed by ye Indeans, or are in deanger therof, and live but at ye Indeans mercie. Yea, some (as they have aquainted them with all other things) have tould them how gunpowder is made, and all ye materialls in it, and that they are to be had in their owne land; and I am confidente, could they attaine to make saltpeter, they would teach them to make powder. O the horiblnes of this vilanie! how many both Dutch & English have been latly slaine by those Indeans, thus furnished; and no remedie provided, nay, yeevill more increased, and ye blood of their brethren sould for gaine, as is to be feared; and in what danger all these colonies are in is too well known. Oh! that princes & parlements would take some timly order to prevente this mischeefe, and at length to suppress it, by some exemplerie punishmente upon some of these gaine thirstie murderers, (for they deserve no better title,) before their collonies in these parts be over throwne by these barbarous savages, thus armed with their owne weapons, by these evill instruments, and traytors to their neigbors and cuntrie. But I have forgott my selfe, and have been to longe in this digression; but now to returne. This Morton having thus taught them ye use of peeces, he sould them all he could spare; and he and his consorts detirmined to send for many out of England, and had by some of ye ships sente for above a score. The which being knowne, and his neigbours meeting ye Indeans in ye woods armed with guns in this sorte, it was a terrour unto them, who lived straglingly, and were of no strenght in any place. And other places (though more remote) saw this mischeefe would quietly spread over all, if not prevented. Besides, they saw they should keep no servants, for Morton would entertaine any, how vile soever, and all ye scume of ye countrie, or any discontents, would flock to him from all places, if this nest was not broken; and they should stand in more fear of their lives & goods (in short time) from this wicked & deboste crue, then from ye salvages them selves.

So sundrie of ye cheefe of ye stragling plantations, meeting togither, agreed by mutuall consente to sollissite those of Plimoth (who were then of more strength then them all) to joyne with them, to prevente ye further grouth of this mischeefe, and suppress Morton & his consortes before yeygrewe to further head and strength. Those that joyned in this acction (and after contributed to the charge of sending him for England) were from Pascataway, Namkeake, Winisimett, Weesagascusett, Natasco, and other places wher any English were seated. Those of Plimoth being thus sought too by their messengers & letters, and waying both their reasons, and the com̅one danger, were willing to afford them their help; though them selves had least cause of fear or hurte. So, to be short, they first resolved joyntly to write to him, and in a freindly & neigborly way to admonish him to forbear these courses, & sent a messenger with their letters to bring his answer. But he was so highe as he scorned all advise, and asked who had to doe with him; he had and would trade peeces with ye Indeans in dispite of all, with many other scurillous termes full of disdaine. They sente to him a second time, and bad him be better advised, and more temperate in his termes, for ye countrie could not beare ye injure he did; it was against their comone saftie, and against ye king’s proclamation. He answerd in high terms as before, and that ye kings proclamation was no law; demanding what penaltie was upon it. It was answered, more then he could bear, his majesties displeasure. But insolently he persisted, and said ye king was dead and his displeasure with him, & many ye like things; and threatened withall that if any came to molest him, let them looke to them selves, for he would prepare for them. Upon which they saw ther was no way but to take him by force; and having so farr proceeded, now to give over would make him farr more hautie & insolente. So they mutually resolved to proceed, and obtained of yeGovr of Plimoth to send Captaine Standish, & some other aide with him, to take Morton by force. The which accordingly was done; but they found him to stand stifly in his defence, having made fast his dors, armed his consorts, set diverse dishes of powder & bullets ready on ye table; and if they had not been over armed with drinke, more hurt might have been done. They som̅aned him to yeeld, but he kept his house, and they could gett nothing but scofes & scorns from him; but at length, fearing they would doe some violence to ye house, he and some of his crue came out, but not to yeeld, but to shoote; but they were so steeld with drinke as their peeces were to heavie for them; him selfe with a carbine (over charged & allmost halfe fild with powder & shote, as was after found) had thought to have shot Captaine Standish; but he stept to him, & put by his peece, & tooke him. Neither was ther any hurte done to any of either side, save yt one was so drunke yt he rane his owne nose upon ye pointe of a sword yt one held before him as he entred ye house; but he lost but a litle of his hott blood. Morton they brought away to Plimoth, wher he was kepte, till a ship went from ye Ile of Shols for England, with which he was sente to yeCounsell of New-England; and letters writen to give them information of his course & cariage; and also one was sent at their com̅one charge to informe their Hors more perticulerly, & to prosecute against him. But he foold of ye messenger, after he was gone from hence, and though he wente for England, yet nothing was done to him, not so much as rebuked, for ought was heard; but returned ye nexte year. Some of ye worst of ye company were disperst, and some of ye more modest kepte ye house till he should be heard from. But I have been too long aboute so un-worthy a person, and bad a cause…


Bradford’s History of ‘Plimoth Plantation’, by William Bradford is produced by Project Gutenberg andreleased under a public domain license.


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