|Comparing Plymouth and Jamestown|
|Written by Robert Jennings Heinsohn|
2. Royal Charters and Patents
Early Efforts to Colonize North America
British land claims on the North American eastern seaboard, from what is now northern Maine to Wilmington, North Carolina was broadly called "Virginia" to honor Queen Elizabeth, the "Virgin Queen". In 1606 King James granted Royal Charters to the Virginia Company of London, and the Plymouth Virginia Company. The patents were identical and covered overlapping areas (with separate extensions north and south) between the 38th and 41st parallels. With use, the names were shortened to, the Virginia Company and the Plymouth Company. The companies were venture capitalists of noblemen, landed gentry, and men prominent in trade and commerce interested in establishing settlements in North America. Land remained the property of the King, the companies were tenants and the colonists were subtenants. In August 1607 the Plymouth Company granted George Popham and 120 colonist's permission to settle at mouth of Kennebec River in Maine. Due to shortage of supplies the settlement was abandoned after 13 months and the Plymouth Company fell into abeyance.
To improve Jamestown's economic viability, the Virginia Company was incorporated in 1609 and additional investors were sought. Ownership of the land was conveyed to the company Treasurer who was accountable to the investors. Colony government was placed in the hands of the Treasurer and an advisory council of individuals selected by the Virginia Company. In 1612 the patent's boundaries were expanded to include Bermuda.
These changes failed to fulfill the company's and Crown's expectations and the patent was modified to allow the company to issue subsidiary (or franchise) patents to groups of stockholders who would supply and populate new "particular plantations". If successful, "particular plantations" could apply for permanent patents comprising acreage proportional to the number of settlers. The Virginia Company remained in charge to manage both Jamestown and the "particular plantations". The patent was reorganized in 1618 such that half the governing authority resided with company directors in England and half resided with burgesses elected by the settlers. In 1624 King James dissolved the Virginia Company and Jamestown and "particular plantations" became a Crown Colony, called Virginia, ruled by a Governor chosen by the King.
Sir Edwin Sandys, a Puritan and Treasurer of the Virginia Company persuaded a reluctant King James to allow the Leiden Separatists to settle a "particular plantation" at the northern boundary of the Virginia Colony just below the 41st parallel, presumably the mouth of the Hudson River. In June 1620 a patent was issued to John Pierce, one of the venture capitalists financing the Pilgrim's venture. Ocean storms caused the Mayflower to sail off-course and forced the Separatists to settle in Plymouth along the 41.95st parallel, north of the Virginia Company's jurisdiction and a second patent was sought. The former Plymouth Company was reorganized in 1620 and renamed the Council for New England under Sir Ferdinando Gorges who had undertaken several attempts, but unsuccessfully, to colonize New England since 1605. The Council was approached cautiously and a second Pierce patent was granted in 1622 for a "particular plantation" in Plymouth. While the Council's patent was directly equivalent to the Virginia Company's patent, the Council did not attempt to organize and manage the settlement, but dealt entirely with the subsidiary patent issued to the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims were allowed to pass their own laws providing they conformed to the laws of England. Since the Pilgrims were granted permission to settle as a "particular plantation", rather than through a direct Royal Patent, they had to prove they were a viable settlement before they could apply to the Council for New England for a confirmatory patent. In 1629/30 Isaac Allerton obtained a third patent granted to William Bradford for the lands of the Plymouth Colony, exclusive trading rights and permission to settle the lower reaches of the Kennebec River.
Comparison With support from King James and explicit patents from the Virginia Company, Jamestown's land claim was never in dispute. Eventually Jamestown and nearby "particular plantations" became the Crown Colony of Virginia. The Pilgrims never had the King's support and were only granted a subsidiary patent as a "particular plantation" of the Virginia Company. A second subsidiary patent needed to be obtained since Plymouth lay within the jurisdiction of the Council for New England. Ten years elapsed before the Pilgrims possessed a patent under their own name. Even then, they experienced disputes with other settlements to defend their exclusive trading rights on the Kennebec River in Maine.
3. Population and Supply Ships
Comparison Jamestown was a deliberate effort to establish a permanent presence in North America and block Spanish expansion. Plymouth was undertaken by a small group of religious dissents persecuted in England who wanted to establish a community governed by Calvinist principles. Jamestown began earlier than Plymouth and was more than ten times larger. Jamestown received considerable political support, supplies and new settlers from the powerful Virginia Company. In spite of a huge loss of life between 1607 and 1610 due to starvation and disease, Jamestown continued to receive supplies and new settlers. After the first year, Plymouth never experienced the huge loss of life experienced by Jamestown and in the ensuing years received meager supplies and few new settlers, primarily Separatist who had remained in Leiden. The Merchant Adventurers were not as reliable as the Virginia Company and in 1626 the financial interests of the Merchant Adventurers were bought by group of Pilgrims who then managed their own trade and supplies.
4. Religious Orientation
Plymouth – Religious Separatists
Pilgrims selected their minister, elder and deacons. Nonetheless the minister had to be ordained to administer the sacraments of baptism and communion. The Pilgrim's original pastor, John Robinson remained in Leiden to minister to the Separatists who remained in Leiden. It was expected he would travel to Plymouth when the remaining congregation traveled to Plymouth. Unfortunately John Robinson died in 1625 and for many years the Pilgrims were without a permanent minister but were served by its Elder and Deacons. Throughout his life William Brewster was Elder and the authority on religious matters.
Leiden Separatists were a covenantal community agreeing to defend and live in accordance with Calvinist principles. These principles sustained them in exile, during the stressful Atlantic crossing and the horrific early months of 1621 when half of the settlers died. The Strangers who boarded the Mayflower in England, while Puritans, had not shared the communal life in Holland and were not as cohesive a group as the Saints. When anchored in Provincetown Harbor, some of the Strangers wanted to sail on to Virginia since they were beyond the jurisdiction of the Virginia Company while others wanted to remain and prepare for the winter. Owing to the persuasion of Carver, Bradford and Brewster the issue was resolved by drafting the Mayflower Compact, similar to their Puritan covenant, but for political purposes, which all free adult men (and some servants) signed on November 11, 1620 using the Pilgrim's calendar (add 10 days for our calendar). The document stated how they would conduct themselves as a political body and it remained the basis for governance for nearly 70 years.
For several weeks the Mayflower explored the shoreline of Cape Cod Bay and expeditions of men often went ashore to explore the land. On December 11, 1620 an exploring party aboard the shallop sailed to the former Indian village of Patuxet where it was decided the colony should be built. The land had been cultivated by the Indians, there were several fresh water brooks and the site was at an elevation that could defended and from which activity in Cape Cod Bay and the surrounding land could be observed. The exploring party returned to the Mayflower and on December 16 the ship anchored in Plymouth Harbor. The first Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower went ashore on December 18.
Comparison A major difference between the early years of Jamestown and Plymouth was the role religion occupied in the colony's affairs. Jamestown was a secular community governed by Anglican conformists of wealth and prominence. Religious belief and practice were not prominent elements in the colony's existence. Plymouth was a religious community of Puritans committed to pursuing their lives in accord with Calvinist principles. While sharing the same religious principles, Plymouth's political leaders were distinct from its religious leaders. Plymouth's political leaders were elected entirely by the settlers, whereas Jamestown's leaders were English noblemen selected by, and responsible to, the Virginia Company.
5. Leaders – John Smith and William Bradford
Smith's practical nature led him to impose discipline upon colonists which if left to their natural impulses would have led to their self-destruction. In 1609 he was elected colony president and enforced discipline and work assignments on contentious noblemen, laborers, and tradesmen unfamiliar with the rigors of living in the wilderness. Smith was injured and in October 1609, recalled to England by the Virginia Company and never to set foot in Virginia again. Back in England, Smith was unable to return to Virginia, although he tried. Sponsored by investors in 1615 and 1616, Smith organized expeditions to map the entire North American coastline. The Pilgrims in Holland turned down Smith's offer to serve as their military officer, choosing instead Myles Standish, although they purchased Smith's maps. Smith's 1614 map of New England showed Cape Cod, the Charles River and the Indian village of Patuxet which he named Plimouth. Smith wrote extensively about his military exploits and adventures in North America and in latter years was a recognized expert about the inhabitants, coastline, flora and fauna of North America.
William Bradford (1590-1657)
Conclusions John Smith was one of the 17th century's important colonial leaders. His concept of colonization was prescient because he understood the need for settlers with the right mixture of talents, i.e. laborers, craftsmen, tradesmen, soldiers and capable leaders. He opposed as foolish, large numbers of raw recruits hoping for the best. Regrettably the Virginia Company was impatient with Smith's impolitic personality, failed to recognize his natural ability and turned to feckless noblemen incapable of leading the colony through threatening times.
6. Neighboring Indians – Powhatan and Wampanoag
Plymouth – Wampanoag Indians and Massasoit (d 1662)
Tolerance the Pilgrims and Wampanoag showed each other and the peace they worked to maintain were unique in the 17th century. From time to time, each had to yield to the other to preserve peace and address concerns of their constituents, but owing to Bradford's and Massasoit's leadership, peace survived for over 40 years, well after the death of each man. Two examples illustrate this good relationship.
Early in 1622 Massasoit interpreted Squanto's attempt to exercise authority over Indians living near Plymouth as insurrection that challenged his authority. By the terms of the peace treaty Massasoit demanded that Bradford either execute Squanto or send Squanto to him for execution. Bradford knew that Indian law demanded that insurrection be punished yet the colony's survival depended on Squanto's assistance. Bradford and Massasoit faced a dilemma. Squanto was invaluable to the Pilgrims' survival and Bradford asked for time to delay his decision and Massasoit agreed. A difficult decision was averted when Squanto died of natural causes during the summer of 1623.
While commendable, the Pilgrim's tolerance was not inexhaustible. When reciprocated by the Indians, it proved to be a viable policy but was replaced by reprisal when the Pequot Indians of eastern Connecticut raided English settlements. In 1636 the attacks and reprisals erupted into the Pequot War which annihilated the Pequot nation. The Pilgrims' tolerance was also taxed in the 1650's when English Quakers disrupted Pilgrim church services and criticized their beliefs and ministers in scathing terms. Quaker activity was suppressed, but Plymouth did not execute Quakers as was done on a few occasions in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Comparison The early years of Jamestown were characterized by contentious relationships with the Indians whereas Plymouth enjoyed comparative peace. Powhatan and Massasoit were very different Indian leaders. Powhatan lead from a position of strength while Massasoit's position was weak. The English challenged Powhatan's power while Massasoit retained his power through diplomacy with Bradford. Powhatan was a powerful leader who viewed the English as just another threat to his authority. He yielded to English overtures only when forced to do so. He was keen to detect evidence of English weakness and exploited it whenever possible and nearly annihilated the Jamestown settlers on several occasions. Massasoit was an astute political leader who used the peace treaty with the Pilgrims to preserve the tribe.
7. Indian Assistance – Pocahontas, Samoset and Squanto
Samoset and Squanto Samoset was a Wabanakis Indian returning to Maine from a visit to the Nauset Indians on Cape Cod. Years earlier Samoset learned some English from fisherman in Maine. In March 1621 he surprised the Pilgrims when he walked into Plymouth and addressed them in broken English. Since half of the original Pilgrims died during the previous months, the settlers were in desperate condition. Samoset arranged a meeting between the Pilgrims and Massasoit. As a result Massasoit left one of his tribe, Squanto, to be the Pilgrim's guide and interpreter. Squanto, born in Patuxet had been kidnapped by Captain Thomas Hunt in 1614 and sold into slavery in Spain. He was rescued by Sir Ferdinando Gorges, taken to England and taught English to become a guide and interpreter for a colony Gorges planned in Newfoundland. The settlement never materialized and Squanto was returned to Patuxet in 1618 only to find his village abandoned whereupon he joined the Wampanoag's. The Pilgrims were indebted to Squanto because he taught them how to grow native corn, squash, beans, how harvest wild editable forest plants and in general how to survive in the wilderness. Without Squanto's help it is doubtful the Pilgrims would have survived after 1621. Squanto died in 1623 and Massasoit sent another Wampanoag Indian, Hobbamock and his family to live near the Pilgrims to be their guide and interpreter.
Comparison Pocahontas, Samoset and Squanto played crucial roles in the success of Jamestown and Plymouth. Without their assistance it is debatable whether the settlers would have survived. There is no record describing the personalities of these individuals, yet they must have possessed curiosity and self confidence that grew into an affinity for the English. It is not clear what motivated them or what they received in return, yet their assistance occurred at a time the colonists needed it most.
8. Business Activities
Initially the colonists participated in communal farming and fishing, etc. where the output went into a common pot. In 1623 the colony assigned land to the heads of families including servants. Under these terms families were granted certain amounts of land to produce prescribed amounts of produce for the colony but allowed to keep the remainder to use or sell. Within a few years the Pilgrims were producing bumper corn crops which were traded for Indian furs that brought a good price in England. In 1625 John Carver died and Bradford asked Isaac Allerton to be the colony's London agent. In 1626 eight leading men in Plymouth called the Undertakers proposed to the Merchant Adventurers that they would assume the debt of the colony in return for the exclusive right to trade with the Indians and Europe. In 1627 the Pilgrims built a trading post on the Kennebec River in Maine to trade corn for Indian furs. This began a period of profitable trade. Large rates of interest accompanied trade with England and it was discovered that Allerton had incurred a large debt for the Colony and furthermore, was mixing his personal trading products and accounts with those of Plymouth. Bradford dismissed Allerton as the London agent. The colony's debts with London were eventually paid and the colony became financially sound. In time the principal activity in Plymouth was to produce agricultural products for the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Comparison Both colonies were commercial endeavors to produce revenue for investors and both colonies began with minimal financial success. Jamestown's investors expected to find precious stones and metals. When none were found the colony turned to growing and curing tobacco with phenomenal success. Plymouth's investors expected the Pilgrims to export fish but lacking experience in the fishing trades, the Pilgrims turned to exporting furs obtained from Indians in trade for corn.
9. Evolution of Colony Governance
Jamestown was a "company town" in which settlers were employees of the Virginia Company and governance was a top-down system directed from London. Until 1610 members of the Colony Council were all chosen by the Virginia Company and the Council president was elected by other council members. After 1610 the president was replaced by a Governor chosen by the Company Directors in England.
The Virginia Company instructed the Council to "have great care not to offend the naturals" (Indians). Consequently the original settlers did not construct defenses nor did they retaliate when Indians stole tools and molested settlers. John Smith was infuriated and urged martial readiness. Rather than build houses, organize work details and accumulate food supplies, Edward Maria-Wingfield waited for supplies to arrive from England. The Jamestown site was a mosquito-infested swamp and after six months, more than half the 105 settlers died of malnutrition, consuming brackish water, diseases and infections. Gentlemen in the colony were apathetic and inclined to wallow in despair instead of applying themselves to relieve their situation. Wingfield was too trusting of the Indians and proved an ineffective leader. Furthermore he also hoarded food for his personal use which aroused the colonists' ire. John Smith and other Council members voted to remove him as president. Sir John Ratcliffe was elected president and asked Smith to organize work details and expeditions to trade with Indians. While on a trading mission in December 1607 Smith and his party were captured. His colleagues were tortured to death but Smith's life was spared by the intercession of Pocahontas.
By January 1608 only 40 colonists were alive and Ratcliffe and the Council planned to return to England on the Discovery. Luckily, the John & Francis arrived with 60 new settlers and supplies but five days later a fire destroyed most of the new supplies. Indians continued to trade food for metal objects i.e. cooking pots, knives, hatchets, shovels, always hoping to obtain swords and guns which Smith refused to trade. Ratcliffe's overgenerous trading provoked Smith to complain that they would soon run out of items to trade. Radcliffe ordered the colonists to build a stately Governor's house and wasted the colony's time and energy rather than organizing activities the colony needed for survival. Ratcliffe proved ineffective, and the Council voted to appoint John Smith president in September 1608. In April and September in 1608 ships arrived with supplies and settlers including the first women and orders from the Directors of the Virginia Company to
In the fall of 1609 food was low and the English gentlemen remained unwilling to work. Smith took harsh action and ordered that, "He that will not work shall not eat". Smith then gambled and divided the colony into three groups. One group moved downriver near the Chesapeake Bay, one group moved upriver, near present day Richmond near friendly Indians and the rest of the colonists remained in Jamestown. John Smith put men in better reach of food, but also divided his strength making the settlers vulnerable to attack. Smith was the master of military bravura, Powhatan was confused and did not attack.
Months before, ships returning to London brought news of the colony's desperate condition and Smith's stern leadership. The Virginia Company decided a new and larger collection of practical men was needed. A new charter was written in which the elected colony president would be replaced by a Governor appointed from England. The Directors concluded that Smith was not collegial and should be removed. Thomas West (Lord De La Warr) who had served in the army in the Netherlands was an experienced leader and chosen to be the new Governor for life. The Company organized a promotional campaign to attract new English investors. To broaden support, an appeal was made to convert Indians to Christianity.
In December 1608 a fleet of nine supply ships and hundreds of settlers left England. A storm scattered the fleet and one ship returned to England. The lead ship, Sea Venture, under the command of Lord George Somers with 140 passengers was shipwrecked in Bermuda. Three ships of the original fleet containing provisions and several hundred men, women children arrived in Jamestown in the spring of 1609. In addition to English gentlemen, the group included, laborers, tradesman, German glassmakers and Polish makers of pitch, tar and potash. Within a few weeks a fire destroyed nearly all the colony's supplies.
When the ships arrived, Smith was informed he had been removed as president. The Council met and replaced Smith with Sir George Percy until Thomas West would arrive. On a trip in the summer of 1609 a spark from someone's "match cord" (a smoldering piece of rope used to fire a matchlock rifle) ignited Smith's power bag hanging from his waist. He was badly burned and nearly died. Recuperating slowly from his wounds, and knowing he no longer had the confidence of the settlers, he decided to return to England with the ships in the fall.
Sir George Percy was only 29 but had served briefly fighting in the Netherlands. As a noblemen Percy tried to bring the ways of London dress and dining to the colony even though food stores were precariously low. Powhatan learned of Smith's departure and Percy's ineffectiveness and resumed his effort to drive the colonists from Jamestown. Percy sent a party of colonists under Ratcliffe to trade for food with Powhatan only to have the party, including Ratcliffe, captured and tortured to death. Percy found himself over his head. He depleted supplies and was unable to obtain food from Powhatan. The period of Oct 1609 to March 1610 became known as the starvation time. People were driven to eating cats, rats, mice, and after boiling, eating their leather boots. There was even recorded evidence of cannibalism. In the early spring 1610 only 60 of 500 colonists were alive.
In April 1610 the Council once again decided to abandon Jamestown. As their ship sailed down the James River it was met by Thomas West and his assistants Sir Thomas Gates and Sir Thomas Dale aboard 3 ships with 150 people and supplies. In June 1610 survivors of the shipwrecked Sea Venture arrived in Jamestown on two small ships they built in Bermuda. Among the survivors was Stephen Hopkins, who later returned to England and in 1620 joined the company of Pilgrims sailing aboard the Mayflower. The epic of the Sea Venture was background material for Shakespeare's play The Tempest.
Within a few months Thomas West became ill, returned to England and transferred his responsibilities to his assistants, Sir Thomas Gates and Sir Thomas Dale. Conditions changed dramatically with the arrival of Gates and Dale. Sir Thomas Dale instituted a system of regimentation and of martial law with severe punishment for even small infractions. Everyone rose together, marched to meals with a drumbeat, marched to perform assigned work duties and retired at the same time. Failure to obey resulted in harsh punishment, e.g. being bound all night in an arched position with one's feet drawn backward toward the head. A second offense resulted in whipping. Escape to the Indians, or stealing food was punished by death in slow and conspicuous ways for all to witness. Settlers were not allowed to return to England without permission.
Plans to "win Indians to English ways and Christianity" began poorly since Powhatan no longer feared the English. Thomas Dale retaliated with severity and for a while the Indians no longer menaced the English. In 1611 two fleets of ships arrived with supplies and 600 men women and children. With adequate supplies and disciplined leadership, the colony grew and entered a stable period free from Indian harassment. The marriage of Pocahontas and John Rolfe received Powhatan's approval and produced a period of amity called the Peace of Pocahontas. Powhatan died in 1618 as was succeeded by his brother Opechancanough.
In 1619 a Dutch ship brought slaves to Jamestown. Governor Yeardley traded food for 20 African slaves which began the slave traffic with Virginia. On Good Friday, March 22 1622, Opechancanough organized a surprise attack. Jamestown survived because an Indian informer warned them but colonists in the surrounding "particular plantations" were not warned and nearly 400 colonists of a total population of 1240 were killed. In 1624 Jamestown became the Royal Colony of Virginia with a Governor appointed by the crown.
During the winter and early spring of 1621 over half of the Pilgrims died from respiratory infection, poor food, scurvy, cholera, etc. Only 5 of the 18 married women survived to cook and care for the sick. With the assistance Squanto and friendly relations with the Wampanoag, the Pilgrims learned to survive the wilderness. Over the next four years four ships arrived with supplies and new settlers enabling the Pilgrims to grow corn to trade for Indian furs shipped to England. In 1630 two thousand Puritans arrived under a Charter to the Massachusetts Bay Company to establish a colony at the mouth of the Charles River. The Bay colony grew rapidly while Plymouth remained static. During the 1630's English Puritans rose to prominence in Parliament. The Church of England began to accommodate Puritan practices and the settlers in Plymouth no longer considered themselves Separatists. The Puritan beliefs in both colonies evolved into the New England Congregational style of church organization.
The patent granted to the Pilgrims required settlers to have all the rights and privileges as Englishmen at home. However unlike Jamestown, the Virginia Company and King played no role in Plymouth's governance. The Pilgrims were financially accountable to the Merchant Adventurers but the governance of Plymouth was managed entirely by the Pilgrims. The basis of government was the eloquently succinct passage in Mayflower Compact:
...combine ourselves together into a civil body politick for our better ordering ... to enact.... such just and equal laws... and officers from time to time .... for the general good...
In so doing they established the first fully representative form of government in North America.
Following Carver's death William Bradford was elected Governor. When he temporarily became ill, Isaac Allerton was elected Assistant Governor. Within a few years the number of Assistant Governors expanded to seven. The Governor and Assistant Governors were called the Court of Assistants and had executive and judicial authority as magistrates concerning marriages and approving land and house transfers. With the division of land (1623) there arose the need for a second political body called the General Court composed of freemen. The General Court met three times a year. Membership in both courts were elected annually by the entire male community above the age of 21. In 1636 the positions of treasurer, clerk, coroner and constable were added. The number of settlers grew and new towns were established in southern Massachusetts.
From their years in Leiden until his death in 1657, William Bradford was the principal leader in Plymouth's affairs and elected as either Governor or Assistant Governor. Bradford was a literate man. He assembled a large library and taught himself Latin and Hebrew to better understand scripture. He was the paradigm of Puritan leadership. Following his death (1657) his son-in-law Thomas Prence, who had arrived on the Fortune in 1621 was elected Governor and subsequently reelected throughout his lifetime. During the last few decades of his life Bradford compiled the history of the Pilgrims. It was not printed until 1856, but Of Plymouth Plantation became an American classic and authoritative account of the Pilgrim experience.
The second towering figure in Plymouth was William Brewster. Brewster's father was the bailiff of Scrooby and sent his son to Cambridge, a Puritan hot bed. While there he became friends with several students who later became Puritan ministers and hung because of their separatist sermons. Brewster became assistant to Sir William Davison, Queen Elizabeth's Secretary and ambassador in the Netherlands. Queen Elizabeth believed she was pressured into executing her half-sister, Mary Queen of Scots, and blamed Davison who fell into disrepute. The 20-year old Brewster returned to Scrooby where he became postmaster after his father died. Around 1602 Brewster was attracted to the separatist sermons of Richard Clyffton at the church in nearby Babworth where he became friends with Bradford, 23 years his junior. Because of long traveling distances, the congregation split and some including Bradford, Brewster and Clyfton conducted services in Brewsters home in Scrooby. Clyfton asked, John Robinson, a 30-year old minister and Cambridge graduate to assist him. Because of his separatist views Brewster ran the risk of loosing his post-mastership and his home. The congregation fled to Holland in 1608. In Leiden Brewster printed Separatist books and pamphlets for Puritans in England. King James banned such literature and sought Brewster's arrest. Risking imprisonment, Brewster returned to England from time to time to make arrangements for the Mayflower voyage. While in Leiden Brewster became the Ruling Elder to Robinson's congregation and remained Ruling Elder for the rest of his life.
Edward Winslow was Brewster's apprentice in Lieden and traveled with him on the Mayflower. After arriving, he authored Good News From New England promoting life in the New England. Winslow was a member of the delegation to London to arrange the purchase of supplies for the colony and to sell furs sent to England. Because of his rapport with Massasoit, Winslow was the diplomat and trade negotiator with the Indians. After 1646 he spent 9 years in England where he held offices under Cromwell. He was recruited for a mission to the Caribbean and died at sea in 1655.
Isaac Allerton had been a tailor in London before immigrating to Leiden to join the Robinson congregation. Allerton was an enterprising man and along with Bradford were made citizens of Leiden in 1612. Upon the death of Robert Cushman, the colony’s London agent, Bradford asked Allerton to be the colony’s London agent to sell its furs and purchase supplies for the colony. Unfortunately Allerton betrayed the Pilgrims’ trust when he began trading on his own while representing the colony. He merged his merchandize and accounts with those of Plymouth and incurred the wrath of Bradford. He falsely represented himself in London and incurred enormous debts on behalf of the colony without authorization. In today’s language, Allerton would be accused of embezzlement. Because Allerton’s second wife, Fear, was Brewster’s daughter and because Allerton had served the colony faithfully in its formative years in Leiden and Plymouth, Bradford only dismissed him as the colony’s London agent. In disgrace Allerton moved to Salem but was banished by Governor Winthrop in a few years because he associated with Roger Williams and other separatists. Allerton then moved to New Amsterdam. Successful as a trader merchant and helpful to the Dutch Governor Kieft, Allerton was awarded citizenship and trading privileges in New Amsterdam. Allerton was one of the principal trader merchants with the Dutch and English islands in the Caribbean, and the Dutch, Swedish and English colonies along the eastern seaboard. Because of his aggressive trading practices, Allerton was said to be “more Dutch than English.”
Comparison Plymouth and Jamestown were utterly different colonies. Jamestown began 13 years earlier was more than ten times larger than Plymouth. Jamestown was a “company town” in which the colonists were employees of the Virginia Company. The colony council ruled as a board of directors, following instructions from London. Plymouth was a settler covenantal colony governed by laws and individuals elected by the Pilgrims. Its governing body was not responsible to the King, Virginia Company nor its investors.
The majority of the Jamestown colonists were well- born gentlemen unprepared for the rigors of living in the wilderness. During the first three years over half died, and continue to die, from disease and starvation in spite of new settlers and supplies from England. The Pilgrims were yeoman and tradesmen who had lived together as a close-knit community of exiles in Holland and withstood a severe loss of life only during the first winter.
The Pilgrim leaders of Bradford, Brewster and Winslow governed Plymouth throughout their lives. With the exception of John Smith, the early leaders in Jamestown were inept and engaged in fruitless expenditures of supplies and manpower. Jamestown experienced persistent conflict with the Powhatans while Plymouth enjoyed peaceful relations with the Wampanoag. After 1610 the appointed Governors of Jamestown restored discipline and order and the colony recovered and prospered.
The American identity is defined by a creed and culture that evolved over four hundred years. Throughout this time millions of individuals arrived at our shores and assimilated as Americans by embracing this identity.
The American creed describes the way we interact as members of a community i.e., individuals possess certain inalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness we select individuals to represent and govern us everyone should have an equal opportunity to improve their position our behavior is governed by the rule of law and respect of private property.
The American culture acknowledges the essential dignity of human beings, and embraces shared values and customs, i.e.
English language, legacy of European art and music, literature, philosophy.
Belief in Devine Providence.
Tolerance for one another and dignity of work.
Behavior is right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate.
Jamestown and Plymouth were America’s first two permanent settlements but were vastly different, yet each contributed to the American Identity. The overwhelming majority of Americans are committed to preserving and strengthening the American identity and will benefit by understanding how these two settlements struggled to survive.
Constance Flynn Lagerman, 90, of Bryn Mawr, a former board member of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Ardmore, died Saturday, Sept. 29, at her home.