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Puritans and Indians
Air Date: 07/26/2007
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Puritans and Indians

 

NARRATOR:  The Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts in December of 1620, had been heading for land granted to Virginia and expected a warmer climate and a chance to replenish supplies.  They were neither hunters nor fishermen, skills necessary for survival.  Many quickly succumbed to starvation and disease.  If the local Wampanoag Indians, led by Chief Massasoit, hadn't stepped in to help, the colony might have perished completely.

 

Professor EVAN HAEFELI (Columbia University):  Both the Pilgrims and Massasoit worked out what was effectively an alliance which kept the Pilgrims safe and actually helped protect the Wampanoags against their enemies for several decades, about 50 years.

 

NARRATOR:  The Indians introduced pumpkins, corn, potatoes, and other local foods to the Pilgrims.  They also taught them how to fertilize their fields, and to plant beans to replenish their soil.  In 1621, the tribe's chieftain, Massasoit, signed a treaty with the Pilgrims, and famously, helped them celebrate the first Thanksgiving after the autumn harvest.

 

HAEFELI:  Massasoit is famous and well known as sort of one of the first ones within the English colonies who stuck such an alliance, and who managed to keep that alliance functioning and peaceful throughout his life.  And, it wasn't until the next generation that things started to fall apart through no fault of his own.

Puritan Life and Dissent in Colonial New England

The passengers of the Arbella who left England in 1630 with their new charter had a great vision. They were to be an example for the rest of the world in rightful living. Future governor John Winthrop stated their purpose quite clearly: "We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us."

 

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