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Saturday, March 16, 2013
Fractured Fairy Tales
One of my favorite events in ancient American history occurred on this date in 1621. The Mayflower had arrived in the new world the prior November and spent the next month scouring the New England coastline for a suitable place for the Pilgrims (Latin for funsters) to call home. They had decided to head to Florida for the winter, when the week before Christmas they found a former Indian settlement which had been cleared by the locals and looked just about perfect for homesteading, so they stayed.
Ever been to New England in winter? It's cold, and the weather is bad. The Pilgrims that could stayed aboard the Mayflower. Those that couldn't went to work building shelter. Over the winter 7 homes and 4 common buildings were built, while 45 of the 102 newcomers died. By the end of January the Mayflower was finally unloaded, and by the end of February the menfolk had formed a rifle club and militia.
So now it's mid March. The Mayflower is itching to return home, the weather is improving and the surviving Pilgrims somewhat apprehensively take tentative steps to build a permanent settlement in the middle of nowhere, when proud as punch, on March 16 in walks Samoset, a local (Indian to Americans) and greets the new neighbors in English with "Welcome Englishmen". The Pilgrims never saw that coming.
Later, Samoset let drop that the reason the Pilgrims found the village vacant was that the previous tenants died during a smallpox epidemic. Samoset invited the Pilgrims to his place for Thanksgiving dinner if they survived. The witches came later.