Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647 Book 2, Chapters 16-19 Analysis
This section marks a dramatic shift in Plymouth’s relationship to both their European and Native American neighbors. Up until now, the Pilgrims’ most significant conflicts have actually come from trade disagreements with other colonists in the area, and while they have at times pertain to the aid of other English inhabitants (e. g., during the scurvy epidemic in Salem), they have actually also provided aid to Native Americans throughout similar crises (e. g., throughout the 1634 smallpox epidemic along the Connecticut River).
Simply put, there was not an especially strong sense of shared identity or purpose amongst the European (or even English) settlers in New England. The alliance formed between Plymouth and Massachusetts in Chapter 18 therefore comes as something of a surprise, and it’s most likely that Guv Winthrop’s veiled dangers played a role in Plymouth’s choice. Nevertheless, Winthrop’s characterization of all Native Americans as a “typical opponent” (121) is considerable, as is Bradford’s obvious satisfaction in relating the bloody attack on the Pequot fortress.
Up until this point, the Pilgrims might have independently seen the surrounding people with suspicion and disdain but have mainly maintained friendly relationships with them– if in part to enhance their own trading operations. What’s more, the Pilgrims were explicitly cautioned by their former minister that it is not “pleasing in God’s [eyes], or fit for Christians, to be a fear to bad barbarous peoples” (93 ). In spite of the condescension of Robinson’s declaration, it contrasts starkly with Bradford’s characterization of the attack on the Pequot as divine will.
This increased hostility towards Native Americans, then, is another method which Plymouth appears to have actually wandered from its original intentions as a nest towards something like imperialism. By participating in an alliance with Massachusetts explicitly to counter this “typical opponent,” the Pilgrims are all at once developing a sense of a shared American identity and suggesting that there is no room within that identity for Native Americans.
The impacts of this overflow into the consequences of the war– not just in Peach’s attack on the Narragansett male, however likewise in the inhabitants’ unwillingness to see European settlers hanged over the death of a Native American. The war, in other words, lets loose a more open and violent type of racial prejudice than had actually formerly existed in the nest. Meanwhile, Plymouth’s power in New England seems to be subsiding.
The clearest indication of this is the territorial agreement Massachusetts and Plymouth reach in Chapter 16; by the terms of Plymouth’s patent, the Massachusetts inhabitants were plainly in the incorrect, and yet they ultimately walk away with the bulk of the area merely because Plymouth can’t run the risk of going to war with them. It is also substantial that the commissioners in England reject Plymouth’s attempts to make provisions for its own defense– most likely, this is one element that motivates the Pilgrims to accept the deal of an alliance with the more effective Massachusetts colony.
In the years after Of Plymouth Plantation ends, the colony would continue to fight with numerous issues Bradford goes over in the account (e. g., monetary mismanagement and population dispersal), and it was eventually taken in into a more comprehensive colony that likewise included Massachusetts Bay. Culturally, nevertheless, Plymouth’s religion-infused commercialism and its reasonably democratic system of government left their mark on the establishing country.