Mayflower: Did You Know?

Mayflower Mavericks

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Mayflower Mavericks are a group who campaign for more acknowledgement of slavery and colonialism in the story of early America. They have sent us some quotes to consider regarding the years that followed the Mayflower’s journey.

Connecting the Mayflower & Plymouth, Devon, UK with Plymouth Massachusetts and the start of the USA.

  • “Between the 16th and 19th centuries…nearly 13 million Africans were enslaved and shipped west across the Atlantic…while 2 to 4 million Native Americans were enslaved and traded by European colonists in the Americas” (Warren, Wendy (2016) “New England Bound: slavery and colonization in early America”, New York, W.W. Norton & Co. p.1)
  • Forefathers’ Day was the original holiday honouring the Pilgrims, and was started in 1769 in Plymouth, Massachusetts 149 years after the Mayflower journey. Soon after, with the American Revolution, ‘the climactic 1620 landing, became the moment of conception for the nation born in 1776’. By then Britain’s American colonies had become so economically prosperous they fought to break away and form the USA.’ (Baker, J.W. (2009), “Thanksgiving: the biography of an American Holiday”, Durham, New Hampshire, University of New Hampshire Press p.63 & 99)
Triangular trade Mid 17th to late 18th centuries  – Molasses from British West Indies to New England to process into Rum to export to West African coast to exchange for enslaved Africans, transported to the British West Indies, who processed the sugar to make molasses.
  • ‘Between 1640 and 1650, English ships delivered nearly 19,000 Africans to work the fields in Barbados. By 1700, the cumulative total had reached 134,000… On the eve of the American Revolution, almost 80% of New England’s overseas exports went to the British West Indies… It is difficult to overstate the importance of molasses, or, more specifically, of rum, to the New England economy. At various times Massachusetts and Rhode Island together had nearly 70 distilleries for rum, and New York City had more than a dozen… In 1770, Massachusetts and Rhode Island together imported 3.5 million gallons of molasses, which their distilleries turned into 2.8 million gallons of rum.’ (Farrow, A., Lang, J., and Frank, J., (2006) ‘How the North Promoted, Prolonged and Profited from Slavery ‘ , New York, Ballantine Books, p. 46, 49 & 53)
  • In the 1790s the Federalist wing of the newly formed US establishment, wanted to avoid charges of being too pro crown or too much in favour of the French revolution style democracy. This led to the “emergence of the Mayflower Compact, a document all but ignored during the early Forefathers day observances, as a key symbol in in the legend of the Pilgrims.” (Sargent, Mark L. (1988), “The Conservative Covenant: The Rise of the Mayflower Compact in American Myth”, The New England Quarterly, Vol. 61, No. 2 (Jun., 1988), pp. 235)
  • During his, Presidency, 1801 – 1809, Thomas Jefferson followed a policy of ‘aggressive dispossession’, that included some thirty-two treaties that made available 200,000 square miles ‘for speculators, small farmers, and slave owners.’ ‘With the passage of the 1830 Indian Removal Act, the US was officially committed to relocating an estimated 123,000 Indian people living east of the Mississippi – 75,000 in the South and 48,000 in the North.’ to areas already populated. (Jeffrey Ostler (2019) ‘Surviving Genocide: Native Nations and The United States from the American Revolution to Bleeding Kansas’, London, Yale University Press, p.135 & 247)
1875 At the Sandy Creek Massacre by Cheyenne eyewitness and artist Howling Wolf

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