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The Trials of Thomas Morton

The Trials of Thomas Morton

"The Pilgrims who emigrated to Massachusetts Bay in 1620 were in search of religious liberty for themselves, not for others. They saw themselves as "making haste from Babylon". So when shortly afterwards Babylon in the person of the (ostensibly Anglican) freethinking libertine Thomas Morton in effect followed them west and declared "I like it here, too!", they had no idea how to effectively respond — for a while. Morton's quixotic attempts at founding a settlement ended in repeated exile and failure, but he may have had the last laugh, for life and society in 21st-century Massachusetts is far closer to his vision than to that of William Bradford or Myles Standish."

Alan H.

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Author Peter C. Mancall
Publisher Yale University Press
Publication Date 2019-11-26
Section US History / All Staff Suggestions / Non-Fiction Suggestions / Alan H.
Type New
Format Hardcover
ISBN 9780300230109

A new look at Thomas Morton, his controversial colonial philosophy, and his lengthy feud with the Puritans

“[This] brilliant riposte to scholarly conventions . . . reconstructs an early colonial experience that is troubled and contested, one that provides a powerful counter-narrative to the traditional accounts that have been institutionalized as clichés in the Thanksgiving tradition.”—Crawford Gribben, Wall Street Journal

Adding new depth to our understanding of early New England society, this riveting account of Thomas Morton explores the tensions that arose from competing colonial visions. A lawyer and fur trader, Thomas Morton dreamed of a society where Algonquian peoples and English colonists could coexist. Infamous for dancing around a maypole in defiance of his Pilgrim neighbors, Morton was reviled by the Puritans for selling guns to the Natives. Colonial authorities exiled him three separate times from New England, but Morton kept returning to fight for his beliefs.
This compelling counter-narrative to the familiar story of the Puritans combines a rich understanding of the period with a close reading of early texts to bring the contentious Morton to life. This volume sheds new light on the tumultuous formative decades of the American experience.

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