Showing posts with label Stephen Hopkins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stephen Hopkins. Show all posts

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Book Review of Mayflower Live Pilgrims in a New World and the Early American Experience

Mayflower Live Pilgrims in a New World and the Early American Experience by Martyn Whittock at Amazon
This is a book review from New York Journal  written by Robert S. Davis, an award-winning senior professor of genealogy, geography, and history. His writing credits include more than 1,000 contributions as books, articles, and reviews in historical, library, education, and archival journals related to the South. He is also a frequent speaker.

"Each chapter in this book becomes not just a separate life and adventure but a different way to learn about the Pilgrim experience."
A new century brings special anniversaries as occasions for reflection; 2019 had plenty of such benchmarks including for Jamestown, and 2020 will include the Pilgrims' "impact on popular consciousness" while putting their "hardships in sharp perspective."
Author Martyn Whittock in Mayflower Lives seeks to explore "the motives, trials, tribulations, successes, and significance of this myth-making voyage" of the Pilgrims. The author does this through the "dramatic and colorful" "interlocking lives of fourteen of those who were part of these events." "They move the story forward from journey, to settlement, to building a community."
Religion and its politics permeate this story. "Puritan religious beliefs had set them [the Pilgrims] at odds with an increasingly authoritarian Church of England" and the king. Whittock tells the Pilgrims' tale both in terms of the turbulent politics of 1640 England and as immigrant refugees and exiles.
True Puritans sought to change the Church of England, but the Pilgrims wanted separation in every way. The Pilgrims left England for the religious freedom of Holland but where "their sons were facing conscription into the armies of the Protestant Dutch" in Europe's religious wars.
After a "long and hard" voyage on the Mayflower, weather conditions forced the Pilgrims to settle on Cape Code, "a strange and alien environment," instead of the distant "northern parts of the colony of Virginia" or the Hudson River of today's New York. Plymouth settlement began as a poorly planned fluke, "in an area that lacked royal authority" but so did the other efforts from which would come the British Empire.
The Pilgrims and the strangers (non-Pilgrims) in their impromptu home in the New World would face huge challenges. "Desperate hardly begins to describe them." Half of these 130 settlers died in the first winter of 1620–21" from sickness. Of the survivors, half were "children and teenagers."
Fourteen of the settlement's 18 adult women died that first year. Settlers buried children and spouses. Pilgrims like widow and mother Susanna White married from the survivors; with widower Edward Winslow, she started a new family.
Love could develop powerfully, "even if it was not the initial driving force" of necessity and survival and the Pilgrims "stressed the quality of lovemaking as well as its regularity" in achieving an average of eight children per person. That became the basis of the legendary love story of the Mayflower lives of John Alden, Myles Standish, and Priscilla Mullins.
Scandal and tragedy runs through many of these tales. Whittock devotes a chapter to the rebels and scoundrels of Plymouth. Myles Standish led brutal outrages against the Native Americans.
Of a family of four abandoned children, only Richard More survived the first year at Plymouth. Their vengeful father had declared these helpless infants. Richard grew up to serve against the Dutch, the French, and the Native Americans. He lived to witness the Salem Witch trials.
The book appropriately begins with Christopher Jones, the master of the Mayflower who brought the Pilgrims to America. He had no real experience with the dangerous Atlantic. So much went wrong, but Jones persevered even when the Mayflower started to fall apart.
The author describes Jones and his ship as exceptional in a time of seafaring and trade that Whittock writes even made each of Jones' marriages a "sound commercial prospect." Two years later, he died in England and the decrepit Mayflower became scrap lumber.
William Bradford led the Pilgrims. A modern docudrama told the history of the settlement through his history, a document that, like the Pilgrims, had a complicated history.
Whittock gives the lives of these founding fathers and mothers within the story of the Pilgrims of Plymouth as a whole. "Some were men, some were women, one was a little child who did not survive the first winter; one was a Native American." Each chapter in this book becomes not just a separate life and adventure but a different way to learn about the Pilgrim experience.
Although the Puritans believed in the "weakness of women," the author discusses the forgotten but critical female history of Plymouth. "The girls were tougher than anyone had imagined" and lived longer; young women, although few in number, managed to survive "to a remarkable degree."               
The characters featured each lived a complicated "Mayflower life." Stephen Hopkins, for example, had survived Bermuda and Jamestown. He knew Pocahantas. At Plymouth as "a stranger among the saints" or not a Pilgrim, he proved a skilled hunter, acted as a negotiator with Native Americans, and owned a rowdy tavern.
Native American Squanto (Tisquantum) became a part of the legend of the Plymouth settlement. His story had the elements of the worst of the European discovery. Kidnapped and enslaved by fur traders, he lived in Spain and England before he found himself back home after his people had died from an epidemic passed to them by the Europeans.
Mary Chilton's Mayflower life serves as an opportunity to explain the legends of Plymouth Rock and Thanksgiving. Whittock often uses these biographies to look for truth about myths. She would become the widow of the wealthiest merchant in Boston and mother of their 10 children.
The entertaining narrative of Mayflower Lives carries the reader through the times as reality and not children's stories. The book has annotation but no illustrations.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Rhode Island: First to Rebel, Last to Sign

Another Great Share from Jo Ann Butler 
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Declaration of Independence signing
Did you know that Rhode Island was the first North American colony to sever ties with Great Britain – two months before the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4th, 1776?  However, Rhode Island was the last state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.  What’s up with that?
Roger Williams and Narragansetts
My immediate conclusion stemmed from the independent nature of Rhode Islanders.  The colony was settled by people who were either ejected from, or voluntarily abandoned Puritan Massachusetts after heated contention over – what else? – politics and religion.  Banished from Boston, Roger Williams beat it out of Salem ahead of the sheriff in 1636.  Anne Hutchinson, William Coddington, John Clarke and their compatriots comprised a mass exodus in 1638-39.  Religious and political tolerance were vital to these people.

Some of them had their idiosyncrasies.  Early Rhode Island was comprised of several towns circling Narragansett Bay, each led by charismatic leaders.  There were quarrels and dissension, but despite their ferocious independence, the various towns of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations united under a single government in 1647.

1663 Royal Charter
In 1663 King Charles II issued a new charter to Rhode Island.  The document reinforced Rhode Island’s freedom of religion, and granted them the ability to elect officers and enact laws – greater powers of self-rule than any other colony.

Gaspee burning
18thcentury Newport and Providence prospered as seaports, and Rhode Island became the northwestern linchpin of the Triangle Trade.  The colony had a reputation for shady shipping practices, smuggling, and harboring pirates.  In 1764 Great Britain’s Sugar Act strengthened trade regulations and raised the duty that Rhode Islanders paid for their molasses.  Resentment grew, and in July 1769 the sloop Libertywas sunk and burned in Newport harbor.  The ship had once belonged to John Hancock, but was seized by British customs a year earlier because it was once used to smuggle wine (though apparently not by Hancock).  In 1772 the Gaspee, a British customs boat, went aground and was burned near Providence.

Boston Tea Party
Boston’s Tea Party was on December 16th 1773.  In response, Great Britain’s Coercive Acts, known in America as the Intolerable Acts, soured relations further by closing Boston harbor until the tea was paid for, placing Massachusetts under direct royal governance, and quartering British troops in Boston homes.

The Intolerable Acts
On May 17th 1774 Providence’s leaders called for a general congress to resist Great Britain’s punitive policies.  Rhode Island’s General Assembly responded by electing Stephen Hopkins and Samuel Ward as delegates to an anticipated Continental Congress.  Providence held its own Tea Party on March 2nd 1775, and burned 300 pounds of India tea by “bringing in and casting into the fire, a needless herb, which for a long time has been detrimental to our liberty, interest, and health.”

A month later, after the battles at Concord and Lexington, Rhode Island’s government raised a navy of two ships, 24 cannons and swivel guns, crewed by 200 men.  At the same time, a 1500-man “army of observation” was also created, commanded by Nathaniel Greene.

Rhode Island state house
On May 4th in 1776, Rhode Island’s General Assembly met in the State House at Providence, and became the first American colony to renounce their allegiance to both Great Britain and King George III. Ten weeks later, on July 18, the Assembly ratified the Declaration of Independence.  Perhaps in an act of belated revenge, British forces invaded Newport in 1781, and seized the town’s land deeds, wills, and records.  The records were sunk in New York City harbor, creating endless frustration for historians and genealogists.

The British surrendered in 1781, and the U.S. Constitution was adopted in 1787.  Delaware was the first state to ratify the document in that year.  However, Rhode Island was slow to accept the Constitution, and did not sign until May 1790.  Why so slow?  I’ll get that post up soon!
Helpful links:
Rhode Island’s 1663 charter: USA State GEN
John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence:
Roger Williams and the Narragansetts: