“[A]bout four or five days after, came… the aforesaid Squanto… [He] continued 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.” (1)
William Bradford had just lost his wife overboard the Mayflower into the freezing waters off Cape Cod, having fled persecution not only in his home of England but Holland as well. And this was after voyaging 66 days across the Atlantic in an overcrowded ship. And now other Christians who’d journeyed with him were dying due to the cruel conditions.
Arriving recently too in Massachusetts, Tisquantum or “Squanto,” had returned to his home, after having been kidnapped, then rescued by friars in Europe. Only he discovered his entire Patuxet tribe had died of contagious diseases.
I’m amazed how these two men’s paths crossed; one Pilgrim, one Native American. I imagine how it must have seemed that all was lost to both of them. But on that bleak ship in sight of the cold bay before them and what ahead of what would be a terrible winter, William Bradford added his signature to the Mayflower Compact. It would be called the foundation of the United States Constitution by President John Adams. And then with spring, came Squanto, teaching William Bradford and his company to hunt and fish and plant in this new, free land for them, even speaking their native language English.
What a significant friendship these seminal figures of early America, two diverse Christian brothers must have had. I’ve drawn their portraits as stylized oil pastel illustrations which you can purchase as signed giclées, Pilgrim wall art and history themed stationery too, and not just at Thanksgiving!
(1) William Bradford. March 16, 1621. William Bradford (Governor of Plymouth Colony), “The History of Plymouth Plantation 1608-1650” (Boston, Massachusetts: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1856; Boston, Massachusetts: Wright and Potter Printing Company, 1898, 1901, from the Original Manuscript, Library of Congress Rare Book Collection, Washington, D.C.; rendered in Modern English, Harold Paget, 1909; NY: Russell and Russell, 1968; NY: Random House, Inc., Modern Library College edition, 1981; San Antonio, TX: American Heritage Classics, Mantle Ministries, 228 Still Ridge, Bulverde, Texas, 1988), pp. 79-80. “The Annals of America”, 20 Vols. (Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1968), Vol. 1, p. 66. Marshall Foster and Mary-Elaine Swanson, “The American Covenant – The Untold Story” (Roseburg, OR: Foundation for Christian Self-Government, 1981; Thousand Oaks, CA: The Mayflower Institute, 1983, 1992), p. 28. William J. Federer, “America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations” (FAME Publishing, Inc., 820 S. MacArthur Blvd., Suite 105-220, Coppell, TX 75019-4214, 1994) William Bradford, p.66