Wednesday, 16 October 2013

A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, 1622

(Image found on,  "Mayflower with shallop" by William Halsall, 1882)

In 1622, the Mayflower transported 102 English pilgrims to New England. Although they did not land where they had intended, they eventually came to settle in Plymouth. The journey of the Mayflower has come to be one of the most important to the history of New England, due to the influential Mayflower Compact, which created the foundation of self-government and  democracy in America.

This account is by Edward Winslow, with the addition of William Bradford. It discusses of how the pilgrims came to settle in New England, exploring the land, and meeting the natives. It was written between November 1620 and November 1621, providing information of the first year of the settlers.

One line which stood out for me in this journal was, "And sure it was God's good providence that we found this corn, for else we know not how we should have done, for we knew not how we should find or meet with any Indians, except it be to do us a mischief." This suggests to me that the settlers were happy to live off of the provisions of the natives, and were thankful to find some food, but were less than willing to actually meet and interact with the Indians. They seem to believe that the Indians will bring 'mischief', perhaps this is because they view them as uncivilised savages, or because they know that they are taking over native land. 
At a later point in the journal, an encounter with the Indians is described, "They thought it best to defend it, lest the enemy should take it and our stuff, and so have the more vantage against us." Here, they have proclaimed the native Indians as the enemy, and are protective of their weaponry, worried that should the natives get hold of it, they then have the upper hand. This suggests to me that the settlers think that they have the upper hand in keeping the natives in their place, and worry that this role could very easily be reversed. 


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