There was Morton of Merry Mount, who so vexed the Plymouth Colony, with his flushed, loose, handsome face and his hate of the godly.
Stpehen Vincent Benet, The Devil and Daniel Webster
In his short story The Devil and Daniel Webster, Benet has Satan conjure up the damned souls of 12 villains from American history to serve as a jury in the case of Satan v. Jabez Stone. Only seven of these entities are named. This is the fourth in a series giving brief biographies of these men. Go here to read the biography of Simon Girty, here to read the “biography” of the Reverend John Smeet and here to read the biography of Major Walter Butler. In this post we direct our attention to Thomas Morton of Merry Mount.
A Devonshire man born in circa 1578, Morton was an attorney and a lover of plays and classical learning. In 1624 he became involved in a trading venture to the Algonquian Indians in what is now Massachusetts. In 1626 he founded the settlement of Merry Mount. Morton ran a free and easy settlement, with the English settlers mixing freely with the Indians and quite a good time apparently being had by all. On May 1, 1627 Morton erected a Maypole with much frolicking going on around it.
The pilgrims were shocked. Governor William Bradford of Plymouth wrote: Continue reading
From Of Plymouth Plantation, by Governor William Bradford:
All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression. Continue reading