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The Pilgrims Were Not Socialists

The Pilgrims Were Not Socialists

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Published by Camp Constitution
An article by the late Andrew Lane of Lexington, MA explaining the history of the Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation. This story originally appeared in the now-defunct weekly "The Review of the News." It was reprinted in the November 30t, 1992 "New American."
An article by the late Andrew Lane of Lexington, MA explaining the history of the Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation. This story originally appeared in the now-defunct weekly "The Review of the News." It was reprinted in the November 30t, 1992 "New American."

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Published by: Camp Constitution on Nov 27, 2013
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 MERI N
OP O
The
 ilgrims
Weren t
Socialists
 hey
preferred
individu lresponsibility
ThetrialsandhardshipsthePilgrimsfacedseverelytestedtheirfaithinGod
W
hen
next
yousing
the
H
y n
o
HarvestHome
thinkkindlyofourPilgrimFathers fortheywerenot communistswithasmallc
nor
any
other
kind
of
communists.Someconser-vativeeditorsandcommen-tatorsinrecentyearshavegiventhe
impression
that
the
Pilgrim
s
were
starry-eyedidealistsintentupon foundingasocialistutopiainthewilderness.Onesucheditor zealoustorefuteso-cialism haswritten: So-
cialism
is
not
a
new
experiment
inthe
United
States.NeitherisCommu-nism.TheSocialistcommu-
nitywas
tried
by
the
PilgrimsinNew
England
over
three
hundred
yearsago.ThedreamofthePil-grimsdidn
 t
workandtheMayflowerCompactwasatotalfailure. Thatisnutshellhistoryasspuriousas itisbrief.Itmisrepresentsthepurpose ofthePilgrimsandtheresultsoftheirheroicstrivings.Itderivesfromasuper-ficialappraisalofastatementbyGov-ernorWilliamBradfordandapartialreadingofthecopiousrecordsleftbytheliteratePilgrims.Statedinthesimplestterms andintheirownlanguage thePilgrimspur-
posed
tolaya
goodfoundation
for
propagatingandadvancingtheGospelofthe
Kingdom
of
Christ
in
remote
ThisAmericanOpinion
is
condensedfromanar- ticlewhichappearedintheNovember
24.1976
is-sue
o
TheReviewoftheNews.
apredecessorof
 
ENEWAMERICAN
partsoftheworld.Inordertomakethatpossible theysoughtfinancialbackingfromagroupofventurecapitalistsin England.WhileinHolland thePilgrims gavemuchconsiderationtowhatpartoftheworldtheywouldsettleandfinally decideduponNorthernVirginia above
Jamestownbut
below
theHud
son
River.NegotiationswithasyndicatecalledtheMerchantsandAdventurersofLondondraggedonforthreeyears.Finallyin1620thePilgrimswoundup onthewrongendofabadbargain.Socialismwasnever thedreamof thePilgrims. TheyneedednoAdam Smithtospelloutforthemthemeritsof freeenterpriseandthenecessityforin-dividualresponsibility.Thebusiness purposeoftheexpeditionwastofoundafishery.TheMerchantAdventurers agreedtotakecareoftheshippingand tofundtheprovisions.Acontractwas drawnupdetailingthetermsofthere- paymentandprofitsharing butwhen thePilgrimsarrivedinEnglandfromHollandtheydiscoveredthetermshad beenaltered muchtotheirhurt.Sadly necessityhavingnolaw theemigrants wereconstrainedtobesilent. 
T
herewerethreefactionsaboardthe
Mayflower
theSeparatistsorSaintsfromLeydeninHol-land;thecolonistsfromLondon called  Strange
rs, recruited
by
Thoma
sWatson primemoveroftheMerchants
.
 N REWL NE
THENEWAMERICAN
 
NOVEMBER3 1992
27
 
 tated
 n
simplest
terms
the
Pilgrims
purposed
to
l y
 
goodfoundationfor
propagating
and
advancing
the
Gospel
of
the
Kingdom
of
 hrist
 n
remoteparts
 
the
world
andAdventurers;and,theship screw, whodislikedboth.
Thecontingent
of
SeparatistsfromLeydenhad
crossed
fromHollandtoEnglandintheirsmallvesselmisnamedthe
Speedwell.
 
waspurchasedtobeusedastransportationandforfishinginthenewsettlement.Sheprovedabalkyship,heelingwayoverandsoakingherpassengersontheshorttrip.Theywereseasickanddrenchedwhenthe
Speedwell
pulledinto
Southamptonharbor
and
docked
alongsidethe
Ma
yflower
withits
complement
of
 Strangers
from
London
.
Thetwogroups,
unknowntoeachotherbutboundtogether ina
per
ilousundertaking,hadonlya s
hort
time
toget
ac-
qua
int
edbefore
new
problemscroppedup. ChristopherMartin,aPuritan,hadbeennamed expeditiontreasurer.He couldnotgetalongwith theLeydenagents,Dea
cons
Robert
Cushman
and
John
Carver.
And
theywerehavingtrouble
getting
alongwith
each
other.
There
waslittlecooperationinbuyingprovisionsand,asaresult,the
Ma
yflower
was
stocked
withtwotonsofbutter,hardlyanyguns,andlittletouseintradewiththeIndians.ThomasWeston,theLondonadven t
urer,was
de
nounced
asa
 blood
sucker forchangingtheterms
of
hisagreementandhestomped
off
toLondonwhentheLeydenleadersrefusedto signthenewagreements.Hevowedthe Pilgrims
would
notgetanot
her
cent
fromtheMerchantsandAdventurers. T
hatwas
aheavyb
low
becausethe
Speedwell
captainrefusedtosailuntil the
vessel s
riggingwaschangedandthatwouldcostmoney.PleasforhelpweresenttoWestonbuthekepthiswordandsentthePilgrimsnothing.Toclearporttheyhadtosellsome
of
theirprovisions,includingmost
of
theirbutter,leavingthemshortofsupplies.
O
nAugust15ththe
Mayflower
and
Speedwell
puttoseawiththepassengersonthetwoshipstotalingabout120.Theysailedrapidlyfortwodaysbeforeastiff.wind.Then the
Speedwell
itscaptainsaid,became openandleakieasasieve.
The
shipsputbacktoDartmouthwherethe
Speed-
28
well
wasdry-dockedfornearlythree
weeks
.The
passengers
on
the
 y-flower
weresounhappythatChristopherMartin,actingasgovernoronthatship,refusedtoletanyoneashoreforfeartheywouldnotreturn.TowardtheendofAugust,
Mayflower
and
Speedwell
puttoseaagain.Theyweremorethan300milesoutwhenthe
Speedwell
reporteditwasleakingand mustbearuporsinkatsea. 
This
time
the
ship
s
put
intoPlymouth,England,whereitwasdecidedtogoon
withoutthe
Speedwell.
The
Mayflower
wouldtakeasmanypassengersasitcould,but20wouldhavetobeleftbehind.Therewere,bythattime,
plenty
agreeable
todo
so,
Deacon
Cushmanamongthem.OnSeptember16th,the
Mayflower
setoutalone.
The
Pilgrimshadno
Speedwell
forfishing,theywouldarrivetoolateforplanting,andtheyhadfewarmsforhunting.Un
less
T
homasWestonrelentedthere
wouldbenofutureexpeditionwithad d
itionalprovisionsand
help.
 
theyturnedback,theywouldloseeverything
and
beinwo
rse
poverty
tha
n
eve
r.SaintsandStrangersalikeagreedtosail onandtrustinGod.
T
herewere102passengersaboard -50men,20women,and32 children-withacrewof40.
Only
16
Leyden
menhadagreed
to
Weston s
newterms.WiththemwereIIwivesand19children.
The
restcamefromLondonexceptonefromSouthampton,thehandsome,strapping20
year
-oldJohnAlden,
a
barrel
maker,hiredonaone-yearcontracttoteachthePilgrimstopacktheircatches,andfour sailorsundersimilarcontracttoteachthemtofish.
CaptainChristopherJones
set
hiscoursealongthe42ndParallel,abearingthatwouldcarryhimtoCapeCodwhereheintendedtoswingsouthto
NorthernVirginiaterritory
,
near
theHudsonRiver. Asweekafterboringweekpassed,tensionsrose.TheSaintsandStrangersbickeredateachotherandthecrewmendetestedall.Thecrewcursedthemwith greevousexecrations andtheirworsttormentoramongthesailorssaidheexpectedtoburyhalfofthematseaand make
merrywithwhattheyhad.
When,lateron,hediedindeliriumtheSaintslookedonitasthe justhandofGoduponhim. Halfwayacrosstheocean,thepoint
of
noreturn,the
Ma
yflower
ranintofierceequinoctialstorms.
 n
one,themainbeamamidshipsparted.CaptainJones,fearfulforthesafetyofhisship andcrew,wasabouttoturnbacktoEn- g
land
w
hen
Francis
Eaton,a
car
penter,locatedthe
jackscrew
hehadbroughtalongtobe usedinhousebuilding. Withafewturnsofthe screwthebrokenends
of
thebeamwereforcedintoposition,twostrongtimberswereaddedaspropstoholditinplace,andtheshipwasonceagainsoundandonherwaytoVirginia.
 n
another
storm
,
JohnHowland
soughtrelieffromthefetidlowerdeckandwassweptoverboard.
The
shiphap
pened
tobe
trailingsome
halyards,whichHowlandgrabbedandhungon to,although
 he
wassundriefathomsunderwater. 
How
landwaspulledinwithaboathookbutwas
 somet
hingill fromthe
experie
nce.Despitethestorms,thehazards,thecrowdingand thepoorfood,onlyonePilgrimdied duringthevoyage-WilliamButten,a young
servant
of
Dr.S
amu
elFuller, counterbalancedbythesinglebirthofa sontoStephenandElizabethHopkins, whonamedhimOceanus.
The
remarkablehealthrecord,inadaywhenshipsonsuchexpeditionsoftenlosthalftheirpassengers,hasbeenattributedtothe
Mayflower s
neverbeforehavingcarriedpassengers.Shewas
called
a
 sweet
ship
, with
seepage
fromearlierwinecargoeshavingimpregnatedthetimbersandsterilizedthehold.
1\
fterlongbeatingatsea,theyfell
with
that
land
which
iscalledCapeCod. Though notalittlejoyful attheirlandfall
off
whatisnow
Sout
hWellfleet,thePilgrims
THENEW MERIC N
 
NOVEM ER
30 1992
 
stillwerealongwayfromestablishing acolony.ShortlyaftersightinglandonNovember19th,CaptainJonesheadedthe
Mayflower
southtowardVirginia.By
midafternoon
theship
had
fallen amongthedangerousshoalsandroaringbreakers ofTucker sTerror,now knownasPollakRip.Theshipseemed insuchgreatdangerthatJonesturned abouttospendthenight
off
Chatham.Onthe20th,thePilgrimssailednorthto seekafairharbordescribedtothembyRobertCoppin,thesecondmate,who hadbeeninNewEnglandwatersbefore. Theyhoveto
off
thetipoftheCapeonthenightofthe20thandsailedon
thenextmornin
g
intowhat
is
now
ProvincetownHarbor.Anunnamedrebelliouselementamongthepassengers
had
nodesiretospendth
eir
livesin travailesandlabours fortheMerchant AdventurersofLondon.Theysaidthat whentheygotashore theywoulduse theirownlibertie,fornonehadpowertocommandthem,thepatentetheyhad
being
for
Virginiaand
notNewEngland,whichbelongedtoanothergov
ernment
,
withwhichthe
Virginia
Companyhadnothingtodo.  Beforeanyonewasallowedashore,
however
,
the
Le
yden
Saint
s
tried
tomeettheexplosivesituationwithafor maldocumentthatlaidthe firstfoun
dation
of
th
eir
govern
me
ntinthisplace. Assoonasitwasde
cided
tomakealandingonCapeCod,theLon donfactionbeganquicklyadvancingthe
doctrine
that,sincethe
coloni
sts
were
toland
without
a
patent
,everymanwasalawuntohimself.Hecould liveintheforestalone,workorplay, fishorhunt,anddohiswillirrespective
of
the
wishesofhisassociates.
That
doctrine
of
each
per
sondoing
ashe
pleased
sostrongly
appeal
edto
the
Strangers
and
bound
servant
sthatitthreatenedtodividethecolony.
The
seditioustalk,comingtoMaster Carver
 s
ears,causedhimtoseekthe
counsel
of
Brewster
,
Br
ad
ford
,andStandish,theLeydenmenwhowerethe realmoversofthevoyage.Seeingtheircolonyinjeopardy,theyrereadalongandwiseletterfromtheirpastorinLey
den
,
JohnRobinson
,
sugge
stingthateachadultmaleinthecolonyshouldhaveavoiceinthegovernmentofthe colony
just
as
they
had
in
lil
t:
affairs
uf
thechurch
.They
then
prepar
ed
the
 Mayflower
Compact.
A
bridl
eofsomesorthadtobeslippedoverthe
THENEW MERIC N
 
NOVEM ER
3D 1992
headsoftheLondoners,acompromise beingimpossibleasonefactionwasfor rule,whiletheotherstoodforbreachof contractandanarchy.
T
heCompactwaswrittenonFri day,the
May
flo
wer
arrivedinwhatisnowProvincetownHar boronSaturday,andtheformalsigning
took
placethat
mornin
g.
Nothing
ismoreevidentfromtherecordthanthat,indrawingupthedocument,theSaints weremerelydefiningwhat,intheircir cumstances,itwasabsolutelynecessary todo.Asapracticalmatter,thegiving toeverymantherightofvoting-the choosingoftheir
own
officersbythe entirebodyofmen,andthediscussing
of
theiraffairsintownmeetings-laid thefoundationforatotallynewsystem
of
government.
 
isprobablethatthePilgrims,in thisinstanceasinothers, littleforesaworcontemplatedthemo mentousresultsofanarrangementdic tatedatthetimebysternnecessity. OnNov
ember
the21st,beforethey cametotheharbor,Bradfordremarkedthat observingsomenotwellaffected tounityand
concord
,
butwho
gavesome
appe
a
rance
of
faction,
itwasthoughtgoodthereshouldbeanasso ciationandagreementthatweshould combinetogetherinonebody,andto submittosuchgovernmentandgover nors,asweshouldbycommonconsent agreetomakeandchoose;andsetour hands....  Amongthecolonistswerethreedis
tinct
dl
vlsious
uf
s
oc
ie
ty:
/:;t:
ll
l
lt:
l11t:1l,
commoners,andservants.Onthedock youwouldhearMasterCarver,Master Winslow,MasterHopkins,sothatinad- dres
sin
ggen
tlefolk
sitwas Master this, and Masterthat. Butthecom monerswerecalledplainFrancisCookorThomasRogersorDegoryPriest.Beingondifferentsocialplanesasthey were,andyetmakingthemselvesequals incivilgovernment,wasanimportant innovation.
Of
the41menandservantswhoagreedtosignawaytheirrightsand havethemreturnedwithlimitationthatmorning,
Edward
Dot
ey
andEdward
Lei
ster
,whowereservants
of
MasterStephenHopkins,werethelast.Ofthe 65menandboysonboard,25didnot sign-buttheyweresonsofthosewho hadgiventheirallegianceormentoo sicktodoso. ThePilgrimswereadiverseagglom erate,manyilliterate,buttheyshowed anextraordinary
politic
al
maturity.
Theyestablishedagovernmentbycon sentofthegovernedwith
ju
standequal
law
sforall.
They
also
negotiated
atreatywiththeIndianswhichwaskept scrupulouslyandwhichassuredpeace tothestrugglingcolonyformorethan h
alf
ac
entur
y.Deeplyin
debt
tothe
Lond
on
Merchant
s
who
sponsoredthem,they
worked
for
more
than20yearsasindividualsandacommunityto liquidatethecrushingburden.Theybor rowedmoneywithwhichto
buyout
thesharesoftheMerchantsandAdventur ersin1627,andby1645theyhadpaid offtheentiredebtattheastronomical interestrateof45percent. Thecolonistshadintendedtobecome fishermentomeettheirdebts,butthey neverdid.Byearlytrainingandinclina tiontheleadersamongthemwereall farmers.
The
ytriedfishing,
but
theirlittlesloopprovedinadequateandtheir
net
sfaulty.
Their
pr
ofit
s
came
from
farming,andtheythenexpandedinto furs,cattle
dealing
,andtrade.Inthe
proce
sstheyestablishedpostswhich
laterbecamethe
sites
of
fourother
settlements:AugustaontheKennebec
Riv
erin
Main
e,Ca
stine
on
the
P
enob
scotin
Maine
,
Wind
sorontheConnecticutRiverinConnecticut,andBourneonCapeCod.
All
of
those
de
velopmentscame
slowly.Inthemeantimeittookamonth afterreachingProvincetowntolocatethesiteoftheirfirstsettlementatPly mouth.Bradford s
 istory
 f
Plimoth
Pl
 nt
 ti
on
isa
daily
acc
ount
as
ex
citi
ng
as
Robinson rusoe
andalmostasinspiringastheNewTestamentaccount oftheactsoftheearliestChristians.
29

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