Sunday, November 26, 2006

Mayflower: Finished!

I finished the first book I set for myself for the From the Stacks Challenge, Mayflower, by Nathaniel Philbrick. It was a good read, especially during the Thanksgiving holiday. The first part of the book tells the story of the Pilgrims from their origins in Scrooby, England, (the birthplace of William Bradford), to their settling in Leiden, Holland, to all the trials and tribulations they went through just to plan their move to America. They had two ships booked originally: the Mayflower and the Speedwell. It turns out that the Speedwell's captain sabotaged the ship by putting too big a mast on it and then using too much sail for the size of ship it was. So the Pilgrims left from Southampton for the big trip to America, only to have to turn back a few days later and land a few miles west of Southampton in Dartmouth for repairs to the Speedwell. They left again only to have the same thing happen and they had to turn back to England and stop in Plymouth for more repairs. This is when they ditched the Speedwell and all crowded onto the Mayflower. That's why there were 102 passengers on one ship. A lot of people dropped out of the trip, too, fed up and/or freaked out by all the complications, otherwise it would have been even more crowded. This first part of the book goes up until the legendary "first Thanksgiving."

The second part of the book is devoted to King Philip's War which took place between 1675 and 1676, about 50 years after the landing of the Pilgrims. By this time, Massachusetts Bay Colony was in full swing, having been populated by the Puritans starting around 1629. They flocked to Boston and its outskirts by the thousands. So now there was Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts Bay Colony, the beginnings of Rhode Island started by Roger Williams and the beginnings of Connecticut. The children of the Pilgrims and Puritans and the children of the Native American sachem Massasoit (and others) did not work on their diplomatic relationships as their parents had before them. One thing led to another and a war started. Basically the Native American population was decimated after this.

You know how reading is an organic process and you want to read your next book kind of based on what you just finished sometimes? Well, I was thinking about reading the original Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford himself. It's on order at Barnes & Noble. Plus I'm also interested in following up on two people who were in the book Mayflower: John Sassamon, a Native American who was five when the Pilgrims arrived and then attended Harvard in his thirties (isn't it amazing how fast things grew?) and Mary Rowlandson, a woman taken prisoner by Native Americans during King Philip's War. Eventually I might do this, but for now, in order to get some From the Stacks reading done, I'm moving on to One L by Scott Turow and Back Bay by William Martin. Both revolve around Harvard and Boston which are inextricably bound with the Puritan/Pilgrim stories anyway, so I'm still kind of following with my theme, but reading books I already had.

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Blogger BettyBetty said...

I came across that Mary Rowlandson in my research. It is really weird to read official death records/logs of people who were taken by Indians and killed--women and children. Some never seen again. The entry just says "taken by Indians". We've all seen it dramatized but it really happened. It goes without saying that the Indians suffered as well at our hands.

10:23 PM  
Anonymous Camille said...

Oh that's cool that you've come across her. She was actually released for a ransom, I think. There is a plaque in Massachusetts near what's called Redemption Rock where her releae was negotiated. Eventually her surviving kids were let go, too. Her 6-yr-old girl died from gunshot wounds at the very beginning of the kidnapping. The bullets went through Mary and hit the girl she was trying to shield anyway. Mary obviously survived her wounds. It's all very fascinating. And tragic for both sides.

11:20 PM  

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