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The Pilgrims' first year in New England online

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10 Cr



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Jfint fear in Itefa ^nglaiiir.


" If any tax toe for wasting paper with recording these small
taatters, such may consider, that small things, in the beginning of
natural, or politic bodies, are as remarltable as greater, in bodies
full grown." — Dudlei/s Letter to the Countess of Lincoln, 1631.




Depositohy, No. 13 Cornhill.

220 'MB

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857,


in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.

■Well-Sprias Preas, 4 Spring I.ane.


Several valuable works, upon the early history of
the Plymouth Pilgrims, have been published within
the last twenty years. Among these are " Chronicles
of the Pilgrims," by Dr. Alexander Young. "Guide
to Plymouth," by Hon. William S. Russell. " The
Pilgrim Fathers," by W. H. Bartlett. The last work
relates to the " footsteps" of the Fathers in the Old
World as well as in the New. To this list we may now
add Gov. Bradford's History of Plymouth, just pub-
lished by the Massachusetts Historical Society. The
original materials for these books, except the last
named, and for several others, worthy of being
mentioned, have been drawn from the writings of the
Pilgrims, who left on record the most ample, and
accurate accounts of their sufferings and labors, in
their new homes.

But these original documents are published, for


the most part, in large volumes, not generally acces-
sible to the community. A number of the books
also, which have been compiled from them, are out of
print, and very few copies can be found, even in the
libraries of intelligent descendants of the Pilgrims.
The wants of the public, therefore, in relation to the
history of the Fathers, are not yet fully met.

Too little is known, even in New England, especi-
ally among the young, of the principles, the Sufferings,
and the noble deeds of the men and women, who
were passengers in the Mayflower.

This little book, the fruit of a summer excursion
to the Cape, and of intermittent studies prosecuted
annually, about the 22d of December, is intended as
an introduction to the first page of our colonial his-
tory. If it shall lead to the perusal of larger, and
more valuable works, it will not fail to be useful.

Though some of the " facts," which it contains, are
" stranger than fiction," they are none the less facts.
Nothing is stated as true, but what is believed to
rest upon reliable authority ; though for the sake of
brevity, authorities are not generally given. Fre-
quent quotations, sometimes in quaint language, the


reader will notice, have been made from the writ-
ings of the Pilgrims, and in a few instances the
original spelling is retained.

In so many details of minor facts, it is well nigh
impossible to avoid errors ; but it is hoped that few of
importance have escaped detection. When state-
ments are made, which have only probability for
their basis, care has been taken to indicate this, so
that they may be readily distinguished from what is
supported by positive evidence. A number of inter-
esting anecdotes, though often published, have been
omitted in this work, because probabilities were
strongly against their truth. May the author be
permitted to hope, that the pleasure he has enjoyed
in writing these pages will be shared by his readers.

It has been his object to present the Pilgrims as
they were, the first year of their residence in Massa-
chusetts ; and by a faithful chronicle of their every-
day life to correct misstatements respecting their
doings, which are often made and believed, and
misconceptions of their character, cherished by too

Surely no lover of truth can arise from the


perusal of the early history of our forefathers,
without subscribing heartily to their eulogy, by Mr.
Stoughton, in his election sermon for 1668. " God
sifted a whole nation, that he might send choice
grain over into this wilderness."
Lee^ March, 1857.


Ohapter. page*

I. LAXDI^"G AT Cape Cod. . . 1

n. Civil Government EstablisheI). 20

in. The Pilgrims Introduced. . . 35

IV. Exploring the Coast. . . . 7l

V. Discovery of Clark's Island. . 85

YI. The Forest Sanctuary. . . lOQ

VII. Landing at Forefather's Rock. 115

Vni. The Town Located 130

IX, DwELLiNG-HousES Erected. . . 148

X. A iCiGHT OF Sorrow 169

XL Friendly Visits of Indians. . 197

Xn. Treaty With Massasoit. « i 207

XIII. Sailing of the Mayflower. . 228

XIV. The First Wedding. . . . . 240
XV. Summer Life at Plymouth. . . 249



XVI. A Journey to Packanokick. . 266

XVII. A Voyage to Nauset. . . . 277

XVin. A Military Expedition. . . 288

XIX. A Voyage to JSIassachusetts

Bay . .300

XX. The Harvest Festival. . . . 314:

XXI. Close of the First Year. . . 325







November, 1620.

First sight of the Coast — Joy of the passengers— Attempt to reach
the Hudson— The ship in peril— Determination to land— Come td
anchor in the Baj- — The Bay and Shore described — Guided by
Providence — Mr. Everett's view — Religious service on board — The
great length of their voyage — Unexpected delays — Storms at sea^
A party go ashore— Place of first landing— Boat returns with
wood — The soU rich and well wooded — First footsteps of the Pil-
grims here — Present appearance of the place — A monument need-
ed at Long Point — Provincetown and the hills — Delightful sea-

How slow yon tiny vessel ploughs the main I
Amid the heaving billows now she seems
A toiling atom, then from wave to wave
Leaps madly, by the tempest lashed, — or reels.
Half wrecked; through gulfs profound.

-^Moons wax and wane.

But still that lonley traveler treads the deep.
I see an ice-bound coast, towards which she steers
With such a tardy movement, that it seems
Stern Winter's hand hath turned her keel to stone,
And sealed his victory on her slippery shrouds.
" They land !— They land !"


At day-break, on Thursday the 9th of
November, A. D, 1620, old style, the Pil-
grims in the Mayflower first saw the shores
of New England. They readily knew where
they were ; for the two mates of the ship
had been on the coast before ; and since the
discovery of Cape Cod, by Captain Gosw^old,
in 1602, many vessels had visited it to fish,
and to trade with the Indians.

The land first seen, w^as probably the
extreme northern part of the Cape. These
beaches and hills of moving sand, as the
traveler now finds them, without a tree or
scarcely a shrub, much comforted the Pil-
grim voyagers. They describe the Cape as
a " goodly land and wooded to the brink of


the sea ;" and add, " it caused us to rejoice
together and praise God that had given us
again to see land." As it is the intention
of the Pilgrims to settle near the mouth of
the Hudson, they pursue their voyage " to
the southward, hoping soon to reach a
river, which they suppose to be " ten
leagues " south. About noon, they fall
among " roaring shoals and breakers,"
which lie off the southern extremity of the
Cape, between the main land and the Island
of Nantucket. Finding themselves "in great
hazard " and, towards night, " the wind
being contrary," they " put round again for
the Bay of Cape Cod ;" and on Saturday
morning, November 11th, "ride in safety
in Provincetown Harbor," as that beautiful
bay is now called, from the town which
skirts its crescent shore. The Pilgrims were
much pleased with their place of anchorage.
They call it a " good harbor and pleasant

10 THE pilgrims' FIEST YEAR

Bay, circled round, except in the entrance,
which is about four miles over from
land to land, compassed about to the
very sea with oaks, pines, juniper, sas-
safras and other sweet wood; it is a har-
bor wherein a thousand sail of ships may
safely ride." It seems truly providential
that they were directed first to just this
spot on our dangerous coast.

" I dare not call it," says Mr. Everett,
" a mere piece of good fortune. I feel my
spirit raised above the sphere of mere
natural agencies. I see the mountains of
New England rising from their rocky
thrones. They rush forward into the
ocean, settling down as they advance ;
and there they range themselves, a mighty
bulwark around the heaven-directed vessel.
Yes, the everlasting God himself stretches
out the arms of his mercy and his power in
substantial manifestation, and gathers the


meek company of his worshipers as in the
hollow of his hand."

As soon as the Mayflower was at anchor,
the Pilgrim band acknowledged the sus-
taining and guiding Providence of God by
solemn acts of worship. Their own
account of this scene shows the character of
these men of faith. " Being now passed the
vast ocean and a sea of troubles, before their,
proposition unto further proceedings, as to
seek out a place for habitation, &c., they
fell down upon their knees and blessed the
Lord, the God of heaven who had brought
them over the vast and furious ocean, and
delivered them from all the perils and mis-
eries thereof, again to set their feet on the
firm and stable earth, their proper ele-

They had indeed great cause for grati-
tude, that they had escaped the " perils and

miseries " of the deep.



It was on the 22d of July that their pas-
tor, Mr. Robinson, " with watery cheeks,'^
commended them " with most fervent
prayer to God, at Delft-Haven, when they
embarked for England, on their way to the
New World. Nearly four months, then,
have passed since most of them came on
shipboard. They sailed from Southampton
the 5th of August, which would make
the length of their voyage from England
ninety-eight days ! After putting back twice
with the leaky " Speedwell," the Mayflower
sailed from Plymouth September 6th,
which would make the voyage, since the
last embarkation, no less than sixty-six
days ! In the midst of the Atlantic they
met " with cross winds and many fierce
storms." Witli a hundred passengers, be-
sides the crew, men women and children,
crowded into a ship of a hundred and
eighty tons, this long voyage must have


tried the courage and faith of the strongest

Nor are these perils by any means yet
passed. They intended to have been upon
the coast of " Northern Virginia" in the
early part of September ; but the failure
of one of their ships, and their unusually
long Yoyage delayed them, according to
our calender, till the 22d of November,
which corresponds with the 11th, old style.
" But here," says Bradford in his history,
" I cannot but stay and make a pause, and
stand half amazed at this poor peoples' pre-
sent condition ; and so I think will the
reader too, when he well considers the
same." He then gives us a graphic sketch
of the "poor peoples' condition." No
friends to welcome them, no inns to enter-
tain, or refresh their weather-beaten bodies,
no houses, or much less towns to repair to,
to seek for succor." " The season, it was


winter," known to be " sharp and violent^
and subject to cruel and fierce storms.'^
" Besides, what could they see but a hide-
ous and desolate wilderness, full of wild
beasts, and wild men ; and what mul-^
titudes there might be of them, they
knew not." Nor can it be concealed that
the master and company of the ship had no
sympathy with the Pilgrims ; " yea, it was
muttered by some, that if they got not a
place in time, they would turn them and
their goods ashore and leave them."

Well does the pious historian ask, " what
could now sustain them, but the spirit of
God, and his grace*" And he adds with equal
propriety, "m.ay notj and ought not the
children of these fathers rightly say : Our
fathers were Englishmen, which came over
this great ocean, aiul were ready to perish
in this wilderness; })ut they cried unto the
Lord, and he heard their voice, and looked


on their adversity, &c. Let them therefore
praise the Lord because he is good, and his
mercies endure forever." Compare Deut.
26: 5— 7, with Ps. 107: 1—8.

On the day of the landing, after worship
was concluded, a company of fifteen or six-
teen men, well armed, were set on shore
near the extremity of the Cape, which is
now called " Long Point." It is impossi-
ble to determine precisely where this first
landing was effected. In an account of
the exploring party, which started Decem-
ber 6th, it is incidentally mentioned, that
the ship was anchored " within less than a
furlong" of a " Sandie Poynt," which is,
without doubt, the extreme point of the
Cape .above mentioned. But in the first
account of the anchoring, they say " we
could not come near the shore by three-
quarters of an English mile, because of
shallow water, which was a great prejudice

16 THE pilgrims' FIRST YEAR

to US, for ovir people going on shore were
forced to wade a bow-shot or two in going
aland, which caused many to get colds and
coughs, for it was many times freezing cold

This description does not agree with
the present appearance of Long Point,
for the shore there is very bold, and the
writer of this recently leaped from the
prow of a large sail boat upon the soft and
dry sand, while at the stern of the boat
the water measured six feet in depth.
Perhaps the Mayflower at first anchored far-
ther up the harbor, and afterwards, becom-
ing better acquainted with the place, chang-
ed her position for one nearer the Point. It
is not impossible that two centuries have
wrought great changes in the formation of
the shore, and the depth of water in vari-
ous places. Judging from present appear-
ances the place of this first landing would


seem to have been near "• Wood End,"
where the flats extend three-fourths of a
mile from the shore. The object of the
landing, was to " fetch wood," see what the
land was, and what inhabitants they could
meet with; They saw no Indians, but at
night they returned to the ship with a boat
load of juniper wood, '' which smelled very

This wood of " aromatic odor," was
doubtless the red cedar ; such wood, as
a writer of that age says "Solomon used for
the building of that glorious temple of
Hierusalem." That this part of the Cape
was once heavily wooded is beyond a ques-
tion. In riding from " Race Point " to
Provincetown, in June of last year, the
writer saw, on a sand plain, many stumps
of red cedar trees, which the winds were
bringing to view, after they had been cover-
ed with sand, perhaps for ages. Some of

18 THE pilgrims' FIRST YEAR

the wood was brought away, but most of
its color and " aromatic odor " was gone.
To those who liave waded through the
sand on these shores of Long Point, and
have seen what efforts liave been made by
planting beach grass to keep the whole
region from being blown away, the follow-
ing description of it by our fathers must in
some of its particulars, seem almost fabu-
lous. " They found it to be a small neck of
land ; on this side where we was in the
bay, and the further side the sea ; the
ground, or earth, sand hills much like
the Downs in Holland, but much better ;
the crust of the earth a spit's, (spade's)
depth, excellent black earth ; all wooded
with Oaks, Pines, Sassafras, Juniper, Birch,
Holly, Vines, some Ash, and Walnut ; the
wood for the most part open and without
underwood, fit either to go or ride in."
Such was the place where the passengers


in the Mayflower passed their first raonth
on the coast. The traveler, therefore, who
would trace the first fi)otsteps of the Pil-
grims in the New World, must begin his
journey, not at Plymouth, but at Long
Point. He will find it a delightful beach.
Fifty families reside there ; and though the
whole region is barren of vegetation, in a
bright summer's day, it puts on an ap-
pearance of cheerfulness. If these hardy
sons of Neptune cannot plough the land,
they plough the ocean, and reap from it
golden harvests. On this spot some simple
monument should remind the mariner of
the Cape, that Pilgrim feet trod those sands
in the " olden time."

There too, not a league distant from the
point, is the unique village of Province-
town, distinguished for its enterprise and
wealth ; and though, with its thousands of
acres, it boasts but one farmer, no visitor

20 THE pilgrims' FIRST YEAR

will find it deficient in the good things
which the earth yields. A few miles down
the shores of the bay, may be found the
rising land, on which a Pilgrim band
encamped, the first night spent on shore.
A sea view from these hills, either on the
bay or the ocean side, is worth a journey
from the far distant interior. Why, then,
in tracing the Pilgrims' footsteps, do most
stop at Plymouth ? Surely, the extreme
part of the Cape has a prior claim upon
our notice.



November, 1620.

The Constitution— Names of the signers— Merits of the Instrument
Mr. J. Q. Adams' opinion — Mr. Bancroft's view of it — Praised by-
Mr. Everts as a charter of liberty — The germ of the New England
town-meeting— Origin of this compact — One peculiar clause— Re-
ligious character of the enterprise — Testimony of Bradford and
Winslow confirmed by Robinson — Difiiculties of carrying out the
original design — Its accomplishment in the next generation —
Picture of signing the compact— Mr. Carlisle's Eulogy on the
Mayflower passengers.

What constitutes a State ?
Not high raised battlements or labored mound,

Thick wall or moated gate ;
Not cities proud, with spires and turrets crowned.

Not bays and broad-arm ports,
Where, laughing at the storm, rich navies ride ;

Not starred and spangled courts.
Where low-bound baseness wafts perfume to pride,

No ; men, high-minded men.

Men, who their duties know.
But know their rights, and knowing, dare maintain ;

These constitute a State.
And sovereign Law, that state's collected will.

O'er thrones and globes elate
Sits empress •. — crowning good ;— repairing ill.

Sir Wiluam Joxes

22 THE pilgrims' first year

Before we proceed to follow in our nar-
rative the Pilgrims through the forests
and along the coasts, as they search for
a place of settlement, we should read the
following brief, but able document, which
formed them into a civil community.

IN the name of GOD, Amen ! We,
whose names are underwritten, the legal
subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord,
King James, by the grace of GOD, of
Great Britain, France and Ireland King,
Defender of the Faith, &c.

Having undertaken for the glory of God,
and advancement of the Christian Faith,
and honor of our King and Country, a
voyage to plant the first Colony in the
Northern parts of Virginia, do by these
presents, solemnly and mutually, in the
presence of God and one of another,
covenant and combine ourselves together
into a civil body Politic for our better
ordering and preservation and furtherance
of the ends aforesaid ; and by virtue



whereof to enact, constitute, and frame
such just and equal Laws, ordinances, acts^
constitutions, officers from time to time, as
shall be thought most meet and contenient
for the general good of the Colony ; unto
which we promise all due submission and
obedience. In witness whereof, we have
hereunto subscribed our names.

Cape Cod, 11th November, in the year
of the reign of our Sovereign Lord, King
James of England, France and L-eland, 18,
and of Scotland, 54. Anno Domini, 1620.
John Carver, John Turner,

William Bradford, Francis Eaton ^
Edward Winslow, James Cliilton,
John C rackston ^
John Billington,
Moses Fletcher,
John Goodman,
Degory Priest,

William Brewster,

Isaac Allerton,

Miles Standish,

John Alden,

Samuel Fuller,

Christopher Martin, Thomas Williams.

William Mullins,
SYilliam White,
Richard Warren,
John Howland,


Gilbert Winslow,
Edmund Margeson^
Peter Brown,
Richard Britterige^

24 THE Pilgrims' first year

Stephen Hopkins, George Soule,

Edward Tilly, Richard Clarke,

John Tilly, Richard Gardiner,

Francis Cook, John Allerton,

Thomas Rogers, Thomas English,

Thomas Tinker, Edward Dotey,

John Rigdale, Edward Leister.
Edward Fuller,

These forty-one signatures are all that
historians have attached to this instru-
ment ; but according to Bradford's man-
uscript, recently discovered, there were
other adult male passengers ; and probably
other names — two or three, at least, —
should be added to this list of " conscript

It may be questioned, also, whether all
the names here given were on the original
compact. Bradford says, " Leister, after
he ivas at liberty, went to Virginia."
Does not this imply that he was a minor ?
If so, was he a signer ?


This instrument proves that our fath-
ers were not factious, ignorant and cant-
ing fanatics. It is a solemn, dignified,
loyal state paper, worthy of the founders
of a free Republic. Worthy of men,
^' high-minded men," who know their
rights and their duties, and are fitted
without the pride of heraldry or pomp of
power to constitute a state. The states,
manship of the Pilgrims, as shown in
this compact, has been much j^raised by
eminent civilians and historians.

" It is," says Mr. J. Q. Adams, " a
full demonstration that the nature of
civil government abstracted from the
political institutions of their native coun-
try, had been an object of their serious

Of this compact, Mr. Bancroft says,
'' This was the birth of popular consti-
tutional liberty. The middle age had


been familiar with characters and consti-
tutions ; but th-ey had been nierely com-
pacts for immunities, partial enfranchise-
ments, patents of nobility, concessions of
municipal privileges, or limitations of the
sovereign power in favor of feudal in-
stitutions. In the cabin of the Mayflower,
hunmnity recognized its rights, and
instituted government on the bt^bsis of
equal laws for the general good."

Says another able writer, Mr. Everts,
"We thank God, that, as they did not
bring with them the least germ of unjust
policy, so they set the growing empire
with not one base element of hereditary
easte, or admitted principle of slavery^
or any seed of aught that heaven's eter-
nal justice could not perfectly approve ^
That compact has been, and is the
ground of legislation in New England
to this day ; and we are well called on


to rejoice that from no peculiar insti-
tution of New England does occasion of
disquietude, or discontent arise to vex
the public security ; that the evils and
danger of ignorance and sloth are im-
bedded in no masses of her population,
local or derivative ; that not for her
children are borne our heavy burdens
of pauperism and crime. And if our
whole country, and our country's laws
had been true to the original Mayflower
compact, there would have been no such
thing as slavery or legal injustice at
this day, in all this northern country."
This constitution of the infant com-
monwealth is indeed simple, democratic,
just. It acknowledges equality of right,
community of interest and reciprocity of
duty. It provides for the enactment of
laws and the choice of rulers by the vote
of the majority of adult male citizens.


Here is the germ of our New England
town-meetings, and of universal suffrage.

And whera did the Pilgrims learn tliis
form of government, tho first practica];
and safe embodiment of liberty, equality,,
fraternity ? From the church to which
they belonged. Their " solemn contract''
by which they became a state, was mod-
eled after the solemn " covenant," by
which they liad many years been ax
church. Religious freedom is the parent,
of civil liberty. Tlic New Testam^ent is
the statesman's best manual for seminal
principles of law, as well as for niotives>
of action.

There are in this constitution of the
Pilgrim's Commonwealth several clauses
of peculiar force and significance, reveal-
ing the statesmanlike wisdom, and the
Christian integrity and good will of its
framers. But one Ihic of it is so full of

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