23 November 2014

The Pilgrims Arrive

Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen, 1995, Excerpts

“Their profit” was the primary reason most Mayflower colonist made the trip. As Robert Moore has pointed out, “Textbooks neglect to analyze the profit motive underlying much of our history.” The Pilgrims hardly “started from scratch” in a “wilderness.” Throughout New England, Native Americans had repeatedly burned the underbrush, creating a park like environment. They chose Plymouth because of its beautiful cleared fields, recently planted in corn, and its useful harbor and “brook of fresh water.”

Throughout New England, colonist appropriated Indian corn fields for their initial settlements, avoiding the backbreaking labor of clearing the land of forest and rock. This explains why, to this day, the names of so many towns throughout the region – Marshfield, Springfield, Deerfield – end in field.

In their first year the Pilgrims, like the Indians, suffered from diseases, including scurvy and pneumonia; half of them died. They did not cause the plague and were as baffled as to its origin as the stricken Indian villagers. For at least a century Puritan ministers thundered their interpretation of the meaning of the plague for New England pulpits.

Henry A. Bacon 1877: The Landing of the Pilgrims

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