Squanto – friend to the Pilgrims


Squanto – friend to the Pilgrims

SquantoAmerican Minute with Bill Federer

William Bradford called him “a special instrument sent of God.”

Of 102 Pilgrims that landed in Massachusetts in November of 1620, only half survived till spring.

Then appeared Squanto.

In March of 1621, as recorded in Governor Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation, Squanto joined the Pilgrims:

“About the 16th of March, a certain Indian came boldly amongst them and spoke to them in broken English…

His name was Samoset. He told them also of another Indian whose name was Squanto, a native of this place, who had been in England and could speak better English than himself…

Massasoyt, who about four or five days after, came with the chief of his friends and other attendants, and with Squanto.

With him, after friendly entertainment and some gifts, they made a peace which has now continued for twenty-four years…”

William Bradford continued:

“Squanto stayed with them and was their interpreter and was a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation.

He showed them how to plant corn, where to take fish and other commodities, and guided them to unknown places, and never left them till he died.”

Governor Bradford wrote of Squanto:

“He was a native of these parts, and had been one of the few survivors of the plague hereabouts.

He was carried away with others by one Hunt, a captain of a ship, who intended to sell them for slaves in Spain…”

The story is that Squanto was purchased by some monks in the Spanish slave trading city of Malaga.

They introduced him to the Gospel and gave him his freedom.

From their he traveled to England.

During this time, a disease, possibly smallpox, wiped out Squanto’s tribe back in Massachusets.

Governor William Bradford wrote of Squanto:

“…but he got away for England, and was received by a merchant in London, and employed in Newfoundland and other parts, and lastly brought into these parts by a Captain Dermer, a gentleman employed by Sir Ferdinand Gorges…”

Pilgrim Governor William Bradford continued:

“Captain Dermer had been here the same year that the people of the Mayflower arrived, as appears in an account written by him, and given to me by a friend, bearing date, June 30th, 1620…

‘I will first begin,’ says he, ‘with the place from which Squanto (or Tisquantem) was taken away, which in Captain Smith’s map is called ‘Plymouth’; and I would that Plymouth (England) had the same commodities.

I could wish that the first plantation might be situated here, if there came to the number of fifty persons or upward; otherwise at Charlton, because there the savages are less to be feared…

The Pokanokets, who live to the west of Plymouth, bear an inveterate hatred to the English…

For this reason Squanto cannot deny but they would have killed me when I was at Namasket, had he not interceded hard for me.’”

Governor William Bradford described the dangerous situation by telling the unfortunate fate of a French ship in 1617:

“About three years before, a French ship was wrecked at Cape Cod, but the men got ashore and saved their lives and a large part of their provisions.

When the Indians heard of it, they surrounded them and never left watching and dogging them till they got the advantage and killed them, all but three or four, whom they kept, and sent from one Sachem to another, making sport with them and using them worse than slaves.”

Governor William Bradford wrote of Squanto:

“The settlers, as many as were able, then began to plant their corn, in which service Squanto stood them in good stead, showing them how to plant it and cultivate it.

He also told them that unless they got fish to manure this exhausted old soil, it would come to nothing, and he showed them that in the middle of April plenty of fish would come up the brook by which they had begun to build, and taught them how to catch it, and where to get other necessary provisions; all of which they found true by experience…”

Bradford added:

“Another Indian, called Hobbamok came to live with them, a fine strong man, of some account amongst the Indians for his valor and qualities. He remained very faithful to the English till he died.

He and Squanto having gone upon business among the Indians, a Sachem called Corbitant…began to quarrel with them, and threatened to stab Hobbamok; but he being a strong man, cleared himself of him, and came running away, all sweating, and told the Governor what had befallen him, and that he feared they had killed Squanto…

So it was resolved to send the Captain and fourteen men, well armed…The Captain, giving orders to let none escape, entered to search for him.

But Corbitant had gone away that day; so they missed him, but learned that Squanto was alive, and that Corbitant had only threatened to kill him, and made as if to stab him, but did not…”

Bradford wrote further:

“After this, on the 18th of September, they sent out their shallop with ten men and Squanto as guide and interpreter to the Massachusetts, to explore the bay and trade with the natives, which they accomplished, and were kindly received…

Nor was there a man among them who had ever seen a beaver skin till they came out, and were instructed by Squanto.”

American Minute-Notable Events of American Significance Remembered on the Date They Occurred

Governor William Bradford wrote the account of Squanto’s death in LATE SEPTEMBER 1622:

“Captain Standish was appointed to go with them, and Squanto as a guide and interpreter, about the LATTER END OF SEPTEMBER; but the winds drove them in; and putting out again, Captain Standish fell ill with fever, so the Governor (Bradford) went himself.

But they could not get round the shoals of Cape Cod, for flats and breakers, and Squanto could not direct them better.

The Captain of the boat dare not venture any further, so they put into Manamoick Bay, and got what they could there.

Here Squanto fell ill of Indian fever, bleeding much at the nose,-which the Indians take for a symptom of death,-and within a few days he died.

He begged the Governor to pray for him, that he might go to the Englishmen’s God in Heaven, and bequeathed several of his things to some of his English friends, as remembrances.

His death was a great loss.”


Bill FedererThe Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.

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