On the Dock:

"And as men are careful not to have a new house shaken with any violence before it be well settled and the parts firmly knit, so be you, I beseech you brethren, much more careful, that the house of God which you are and are to be, be not shaken with unnecessary novelties or other oppositions at the first settling thereof."  (12)

[1]  Mourtís Relation begins with a letter.  John Robinson, the author of the letter, calls it ďa further spur of provocationĒ (10) for the departing settlers, meant to remind them what to aim for in the new world.  Native Americans are never mentioned in this letter.  Would they not have been a major factor, something to remind the settlers of as they departed?  Looking at the letter we see what the Pilgrims wished to accomplish and see that these goals leave no reason for extensive worry about the Native Americans.

[2]  Robinson's letter does begin with a warning, however, but a warning for the Pilgrims to continue to observe their religious ways, to continue to repent before God.  This warning reminds us that they are leaving primarily because of religious persecution.  Other settlers departed with the idea of converting the native peoples, often giving rise to conflict between cultures.  However, the Pilgrims, long victims of persecution, show no desire to convert the natives.  In this way they may hope to avoid conflict with the indigenous peoples.  A second warning is to keep peace among the men they are with.  These men include not only fellow Pilgrims but also members of the voyage with their own secular agendas.  This warning further shows the need for a tolerance of people who are not of their sect and also shows a desire to keep peace.  This passage, though not strictly speaking applying to the natives, may explain the Pilgrimís future attempts at cordial relations with them.  A final warning the letter gives is to work for the common good and to appoint leaders who will do the same.  This type of government eliminates personal ambition, which is the most deadly force in Native-European relations.  If the ambition for riches and personal gain is absent, then the people will have little reason to deal competitively with the Native Americans.  Historically, we have seen that more often than not the purpose of relations with Indians has been to rob them of land and goods.

[3]  Though this farewell letter makes no mention of Native Americans, then, it shows the reason why the Pilgrims were not concerned with them.  Pilgrim settlers foresaw a much different kind of contact with the natives than, say, Spanish conquistadors.  Their goals were not gain and glory, but separation and survival.

Timothy Guida

(page references to Mourt's Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, ed. Dwight B. Heath [Bedford: Applewood Books, 1963])