April 1621, New Governor
In April of 1621 Governor John Carver died and William Bradford became the new Governor of the Plymouth Colony.
May-June 1621, Visit with Massasoit
After the signing of the Peace Treaty several Pilgrims, including Edward Winslow and Stephen Hopkins accompanied by Squantum, travelled to Pokanoket to visit with Massasoit, so that they could learn more about their neighbours and to make some additions to their treaty.
They reaffirmed their peace with one another, and Massasoit agreed to tell the members of his tribe to stop making random visits to Plymouth looking for food and entertainment. He also agreed to send a messenger to contact the Nauset Indians from whom the Pilgrims had taken corn upon their first arrival, because the Pilgrims wanted to repay them. He entertained them and assured them of the exchange of furs (which the English greatly desired.) He requested that they deter the Frenchmen from coming into the Narragansett Bay.
Early June, Visit to Nauset
The Pilgrims also made inquires about one of the children named John Billington who had gotten lost in the forest in the spring of 1621, after the Pilgrims had survived the first winter. Massasoit told the Pilgrims that the Nauset had found him and taken him in. On 11 June 1621, the Pilgrims sent out an expedition with Squantum to the Nauset to pay them for the corn they had taken and to attempt to gain the boy's release.
Pilgrims first arrived on shore where they met Iyanough, the chief sachem of the Cummaquid. In Mourt's Relation, a meeting with an elderly lady is described:
Iyanough guided them to the Nauset, and introduced them to Aspinet. The meeting was very stressful for both sides, but went well. The Pilgrims paid back the Nauset for the corn they had taken, and exchanged gifts. Then Aspinet, the sachem of the Nauset, led a group of Indians with the young John Billington who was "behung with beads". They made peace with one another, exchanged gifts. After the Pilgrims left the Nauset, the wind did not allow them to get home directly, and so they ended up back with Iyanough again. The Cummaquid tribe held another celebration of singing and dancing. The next day Iyanough gave them the water they needed, and the Pilgrims made their way back to Plymouth.
Late June, Plot by Corbitant
In late June 1621, the Pilgrims heard of a plot against Massasoit by Corbitant who was sachem of the Namasket tribe and was a petty-sachem under Massasoit. His tribe bordered on the region with the Wampanoag enemies, the Narragansett, and Corbitant had secretly been having conversations and negotiations with them. Corbitant was very opposed to the Indians' peace with the Pilgrims, and actively sought to undermine Massasoit's power by allying with the Narragansett in an attempt to overthrow him. He was angry at the peace between Nauset, Comatulid and the pilgrims and at Squantum because he had negotiated it. He was said to have visited the Indians at Namasket, trying to turn them against Massasoit and the Pilgrims.
The Pilgrims sent Tokamahamon to Corbitant. To learn more about his plans Squantum and Hobbamock followed secretly behind Tokamahamon. (Hobbamock, a Wampanoag Pokanoket Indian was an Indian pniese or leader, one of the numerous sub-chiefs of the great head chief Massasoit. Pniese were men of great courage and wisdom.) But Corbitant discovered the spying Squantum, captured him, and threatened to kill him. Hobbamock was able to escape being captured, but overheard Corbitant say that he wanted to kill Squantum for "if he were dead, the English would then have lost their tongue."
Hobbamock ran back to Plymouth to inform the Pilgrims that Squantum had probably been killed. Acting upon their treaty obligations, the Pilgrims sent fourteen armed men under Captain Miles John Pory, an official visiting from Jamestown, Virginia, describes the relationship of the Pilgrims with the Indians as a result of this incident.
John Pory, an official visiting from Jamestown, Virginia, describes the relationship of the Pilgrims with the Indians as a result of this incident.
"They are friends with all their neighbors And not withstanding that those of the isle Capawack are mortal enemies to all other English, ever since Hunt most wickedly stole away their people to sell them for slaves, yet are they in good terms with them of Plymouth, because as they never did wrong to any Indian, so will they put up no injury at their hands. And though they gave them kind entertainment, yet stand the day and night precisely upon their guard. One thing which made them to be much respected was the revenge which they attempted in the night upon Corbitant, the chief man about the great king, because they were (though falsely) informed, that he had slain Tisquantum, Sir Ferdinando Gorge his Indian, who lived as their servant under their protection, interpreting the injury done to him as done to themselves." 2
July, 1621, Hobbamock Lives With Pilgrims
Hobbamock moved to Plymouth to live and stayed there for the rest of his life, providing a bond that cemented the lasting friendship of Massasoit. An early writer, describing Hobbamock, said, "that he was a proper lusty young man and one that was in account among the Indians in these parts for his valor."
September 1621, Corbitant Signs Treaty
After these confrontations Corbitant went to Plymouth, where in September 1621, he signed a treaty of amity and peace. The English still suspected that he at heart was their enemy, and only waiting a convenient opportunity to make it known.
November 9, 1621, Indians Suspicious
The ship Fortune arrived at Plymouth on November 9, 1621, bringing 35 new people just a few weeks after the First Thanksgiving. The Narragansett, which were reported to be many thousands strong, began sending threats. The neighboring Indians on all sides said the Narragansett were preparing to attack. The Pilgrims thought this was because the Narragansett feared they were more dangerous now that new supplies had arrived on the ship. (In fact the ship brought neither arms nor other provisions, but were relying on the Pilgrims.)
January 1622, Indian Token of War
In January 1622, Canonicus sent a messenger to the Pilgrims with a bundle of arrows wrapped in the skin of a rattlesnake. Squantum was away at the time, so they were not sure what the token meant. They questioned the messenger. After some persuasion he told them that the messenger, Corbitant, who his Master had sent last summer to make peace, had returned and persuaded him to go war. In order to provoke Canonicus to war, Corbitant hid many of the things were sent by the Governor. Then he scorned the gifts of the Pilgrims when compared to what Canonicus had sent to them, and more importantly when compared to the great importance of Canonicus.
The messenger promised to tell the truth, but he feared that he would be killed for it. The Pilgrims after consideration set him free. The Governor told him to tell Canonicus that the Governor had heard of his many threats and that he was much offended and would fight him if he were not at peace with his neighbors. He offered the messenger food, but he refused to eat, and left to rush home, giving many thanks for his liberty.
Squantum finally returned and told the Pilgrims that they had been sent a token of hostility and defiance that was a challenge to war. He advised the governor to send back the rattlesnake back filled with gunpowder. The governor send a messenger to do as Squantum advised. The gunpowder frightened Canonicus. He was so scared of the English gunpowder that "he would not once touch the powder and shot, or suffer it to stay in his house or Country."
Because the Pilgrims were frightened by this treat of war, they fortified Plymouth, set up watches, and conducted fire protection drills.
April (beginning), Pilgrims Decide to Visit the Massachusetts
The Pilgrims decide to visit the Massachusetts Indians for trade, since they had promised to visit them in March. Hobbamock, who still lived in Plymouth, said that he feared the Massachusetts were joined in confederacy with the people of Narragansett, and that they therefore would take this opportunity to cut off Captain Standish and his company abroad. He said their absence would allow the Narragansett to assault Plymouth. He accused Squantum of being part of the conspiracy, and said that Squantum would try to draw them from their shallops to the Indians houses to give their enemies better advantage.
After much discussion in spite of his warnings, the Pilgrims decided to go because they thought it would be a sign of weakness to stay and because they were badly in need of suppies. Standish, 10 men, Squantum and Hobbamock began a trip. As soon as they left, an Indian messenger came running into the Plymouth settlement, apparently in great fright, out of breath, and bleeding from a wound in his face. The messenger said that the Indian chief Caunbitant with many of the Narragansett, and he believed Massasoit with them, were coming to destroy the English. A cannon was fired and the colonist forces promptly mustered.
April (beginning), False Alarm
Captain Standish and the men in a boat hastened to Plymouth. Squantum repeated what the messenger had said. Hobbamock assured the people that it was a false alarm and the report that Massasoit was involved was groundless, as indeed it proved to be. Hobbamock also said it was a plot of Squantum, who denied all knowledge of or participation in the affair. The English, however, thought that Squantum had participated in the deception.
Hobbamock's wife was sent on a spying mission to determine whether or not Massasoit was still faithful, or whether he was plotting against the Pilgrims as Squantum claimed. She found Massasoit still faithful and friendly to the Pilgrims. Hobbamock tried to expose Squantum, who he said was gaining personal power and prestige among the Indians by threatening to turn the Pilgrims against them. Edward Winslow describes the situation as follows:"Thus by degrees we began to discover Squanto, whose ends were only to make himself great in the eyes of his countrymen by means of his nearness and favor with us; not caring who fell so he stood. ... In general his course was to persuade them he could lead us to peace or war at his pleasure, and would oft threaten the Indians, sending them word in a private manner, we intended shortly to kill them, that thereby he might get gifts to himself to work their peace, insomuch as they had him in greater esteem than many of their sachems. For these and like abuses the governor sharply reproved Squantum."(3)
The Plymouth settlers informed the Indians that had not known that what Squantum was saying. They assured them that they had no intention of starting a war. They also said that if such an incident were to occur again, the Indians could punish any person spreading such false reports.
April, Journey to Massachusetts
After the matter was settled, the Pilgrims left with Squantum on their journey to the Massachusetts. When they arrived, Squantum went to speak the sachem, Obbatinewat, who lived in the bottom of the Massachusetts Bay, but was under Massasoit. Although he was kind, he told them that his people were afraid to settle anywhere because of their enemies the Tarantines and the Squaw Sachem, or Massachuset queen.
The Pilgrims offered to safeguard him from his enemies if he brought them to the Massachuset queen. They followed him far into the country finding the remains of the abandoned settlements of his people.
Finally, they came to a settlement where only the women remained. The men had all scattered in fear, leaving everything behind including their corn. The women were afraid at first but when they saw the Pilgrims would not harm them, they boiled cod and such other food for them. After a time one of the men came and agreed to sell them furs, but when they inquired where their queen was, he said they could not see her. Squantum advised them steal everything from the women, including their furs, because they were a "bad people." The Pilgrims replied that they would not harm them unless they were attacked, and began to return to their boat. The women followed them, wanting to sell their furs. The Pilgrims after traded with the Massachusetts promising to return to trade later. They returned home with a good store of trade.
Massasoit Demands Squantum
When they returned, Massasoit demanded Squantum so that he could put him to death for making trouble between the Indians and the Pilgrims according to the terms of the treaty. The Pilgrims, however, thought that saving Squantum's life was more important than keeping the treaty with Massasoit. Massasoit then sent several messengers, who offered many beaver skins in exchange for Squantum's life. They demanded him in the name of Massasoit, and brought Massasoit's knife with which to cut off his head and hands.
The Governor sent for Squantum, who knew that Massasoit had sent a messengers for him. Squantum did not run away. He accused Hobbamock of causing his troubles, and yielded himself to the Governor to be sent to Massasoit or not, according to the Governor's determination of what was right.
Fate Intervenes for Squantum
At the instant when the Governor was ready to deliver him into the hands of his executioners, a boat was seen at sea coming near the town and then hiding behind a head-land. The Pilgrims were afraid that the boat belonged to the French who might be allied with some of the Indians against them. The Governor therefore told Massasoit's messenger that he would not give Squantum to them until he had some information about the boat. The messengers were very angry and left without delay.
Fate had again intervened in Squantum's life, and he escaped a horrifying death at the last moment. While the Pilgrims were investigating Squantum, they discovered another deception. He told the other Indians that in addition to the gunpowder, the Pilgrims had the plague buried in their storehouse. He said that they could send the plague to what place or people they wanted, and destroy them, without even stirring from home. Perhaps the story that Squantum spread explains why the Indians were so afraid to attack the Pilgrims or their village, even when many of the men were away.
However, another reason could have been the honourable manner in which the Pilgrims behaved towards all Indians. They paid them back for anything they took and they did not attack people who were weak. John Pory, the visiting Jamestown official, continues to describe the Pilgrim's relationship with the Natives, which he saw as resulting from the Pilgrim's honourable behaviour. "Besides when Tisquanto was earnestly required to be sent home by the great king, they chose rather to hazard a falling out with him, than to break their faith and promise to Tisquanto, who had been sure to have gone to the pot, if they had delivered him up, which faith and courage of theirs that made other distracted Indians to retire themselves into their protection, of whose labor and service they have made good use, but especially of Tisquanto."3
Summer 1622, Thomas Weston Arrives
The boat that the Pilgrims saw was a fishing boat that brought Mr. Thomas Weston. At that time the Pilgrims were so scarce of food that they had been brought to the brink of starvation during the winter. In the end of June, or beginning of July two of Weston's ships the Charity and the Swan arrived with fifty or sixty men to plant for him. The Pilgrims found many of these people to be thieves and troublemakers, but tried to help them as much as they could. Eventually they settled at Wessaguscus, and the Indians began to complain about their stealing and other abuses.
At the end of August two ships came into their harbour, one called the Discovery and the other the Sparrow. The Pilgrims were able to get some provisions they needed. At the end of September, or beginning of October, Mr. Weston's biggest ship called the Charity returned to England, leaving the colony without sufficient food for winter. The smaller ship the Swan remained with his Colony.
November 1622, Trading with Cape Cod Indians
The Plymouth people were not much better off; and but for the kindness of the Indians, they might have starved. As the winter progressed, the two colonies entered into articles of agreement to go on a trading expedition to the Southward of Cape Cod to purchase corn. Squantum was the interpreter and pilot, since he had twice passed within the Shoals of Cape Cod, both with the English and the French. Following Squantum's directions through the shoals, they arrived in a harbour and a landing party, including the Governor with Squantum as interpreter, went ashore.
They met the inhabitants who were at first frightened. When Indians realized they were coming to trade, they welcomed the Governor very well with venison and other food, which they seemed to have in great abundance. They promised to trade, but they were suspicious and hid their belongings and ran to the woods to hide. Squantum persuaded them of honesty of the English, so finally they agreed to trade. The Pilgrims got eight hogsheads of corn and beans from only a few Indians.
Squantum was confident he could navigate the shoals further inland. The Indians who were inhabitants of the area confirmed that it was possible to do so. As a result, they prepared to bring the ships further up into the country.
December 1622, Death of Squantum
Just as they were about to leave, Squantum became ill and died.
Prince, the annalist, said that the disorder of which Squanto died was a fever, attended with "bleeding much at the nose, which the Indians reckon a fatal symptom." Squantum asked the governor would pray for him, that he might go to the Englishman's God. He also bequeathed "his things to sundry of his English friends as remembrances of his love." By the English the death of Squanto was accounted a great loss. He died in December, 1622, or about two years after the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. He is buried on Cape Cod near Chatham. The expedition, however, that came so near failing from the death of the pilot, was not abandoned. Squantum, in his final act just before his death, succeeded in introducing his English friends to the sachem of Manamoick and his people, by whom the English were received and generously entertained. The Indians of Manamoick, after refreshing their English visitors "with store of venison and other victuals which they brought them in great abundance," sold them "8 hogsheads of corn and beans." The English were very pleased with the success attending this voyage, so they went again to Cape Cod and to the Indians at Nauset, "where the sachem Aspinet used the governor very kindly and where they bought 8 or 1 hogsheads of corn and beans; also at a place called Mattachiest, where they had like entertainment and corn also."
While they were there a violent storm arose and drove thier ship on shore, damaging it so that they were not able to get the corn on board. They stacked it, and securing it from the weather with a covering of mats and dry grass or sedge. Aspinet was asked to watch and keep the wild animals from destroying the corn until the English could come for it, and also to see that no injury done to their boat, all of which he faithfully did. The governor returned home by land, "receiving great kindness from the Indians by the way."
1. John Pory's Description of Plymouth written in 1622. John Pory was an offical visiting Plymouth form Jamestown, Virginia.
2.Mourt's Relation which was written mainly Edward Winslow (although William Bradford appears to have written the descriptions above) between November 1620 and November 1621. It was first published in London in 1622, presumably by George Morton (hence the title, Mourt's Relation).
3.Good Newes from New England. Written by Mayflower passenger Edward Winslow and published in London in 1624.