Monday, November 16, 2009

I am trying to break your heart

Seized in 1614, Tisquantum somehow escaped slavery in Spain and made his way to London and then Newfoundland, where he boarded an English ship headed toward his homeland. During his five year absence, the New England coast had been hit by a devastating plague, probably introduced by European fishermen or sailors. Thomas Dermer, captain of the ship that carried Tisquantum south in 1619, described villages ‘not long since populous now utterly void,’ or inhabited only by dying natives covered in ‘sores’ and ‘spots.’

Reaching Tisquantum’s home, formerly a large and thriving settlement called Patuxet, Dermer found its inhabitants ‘all dead.’

It was to this ravaged shoreline that the Mayflower passengers came late the following year.

From Plymouth, the very last chapter of Tony Horwitz’s A Voyage Long and Strange: On the Trail of Vikings, Conquistadors, Lost Colonists, and other Adventurers in Early America, in which he ranges far and wide across the Americas recounting the 600 years worth of European exploration and settlement before the pilgrims landed, somewhat haphazardly, on Plymouth Rock.

Illus: Squanto, aka Tisquantum


p2wy said...

Ok, I'm a bit ashamed to admit I'm currently reading Sarah Vowell's book on the Pilgrims. Only slightly lighter fare (there's still a ton of death and suffering, of course).

Leslie F. Miller said...

p2wy, I LOVE Sarah Vowell.

suttonhoo said...

no shame, p2! what Leslie said: Sarah Vowell is the best.

I got mr. hoo that book last christmas -- it's next on my list.

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