Agapê and the founding of the American Republic
A Temple of Hope ... A Beacon of Liberty
20 February 2011
This article appeared in the October 27, 2006 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
by Robert Ingraham
On Dec. 18, 1620, the ship Mayflower arrived at Plymouth harbour. On the next day, her passengers began to go ashore. Within five months, 51 of those original 102 colonists would be dead, including the colony’s first governor, John Carver, together with his wife and children. During most of the next ten years, the colony suffered through periods of famine, disease, near starvation, and repeated attempts by King James I’s Privy Council, and the leadership of the Church of England, to destroy the colony. But they persisted, and their example inspired others. And the friendship and help which they provided to the Puritans, first at Salem in 1628, and later to John Winthrop, helped secure the creation of a new commonwealth on the shores of America.
Today, some few Americans might vaguely recognize the names of John Carver, William Bradford, or Miles Standish, but the names of John Robinson, William Brewster, Robert Cushman, Isaac Allerton, and Edward Winslow are forgotten. These men, and those who joined their mission, are the founders of what became the United States of America. This is their story. In telling this story, it is worth reflecting that neither the Pilgrims, the primary subjects of this writing, nor the New England Puritans, were mythical or folklore figures, but flesh-and-blood human beings. Yet, at a time of great crisis, they found the courage to carry forward a great project.
Today, we are confronted anew with a terrible crisis. The synarchist controllers of Dick Cheney, together with the likes of Samuel Alito’s and Anton Scalia’s Federalist Society, are attempting to terrify the American people into accepting fascist dictatorial rule. It is no exaggeration to assert that our American constitutional republic is facing the gravest challenge in its history at the present moment. In the political war, which we have joined, a key weapon in our arsenal is the realization that the capabilities to win this war already exist within our culture; that from its earliest inception, the American nation was grounded in philosophical and political principles, which have become a living heritage within our institutions and citizenry. In presenting the following lesson on the true history and purpose of the creation of the United States of America, on the mission of the Pilgrims, as well as their Puritan friends, it is intended that some among us will more clearly recognize those inherent strengths, so as to be able to more effectively win our current political objectives.
1. The Origins
Our story encompasses the half-century roughly from 1580 to 1630. These were years in which things in Europe were going very badly. The fight for the establishment of nation-state commonwealths, which had developed out of the 15th-Century Renaissance, was faltering. Religious wars and fanaticism, fanned by the oligarchical reactionaries in Hapsburg Spain and the Vatican, were driving the population mad. And in Venice, a project was under way to create new centers of maritime financial oligarchy in England and the Netherlands. The possibility of defeating this resurgent oligarchism became impossible. At that point, small groups of individuals resolved to relocate to the New World, for the purpose of continuing the mission of establishing societies based on the principle of the Common Good, in which men and women could fulfill their natures as rational human beings made in God’s image.
The passengers on the Mayflower were not the only colonizers of that period; in fact their numbers were tiny in comparison to the overall maritime activity. But their mission was unique. Spain’s Consejo De Indias, Portugal’s Estado da India, and later the Dutch East and West India Companies, as well as England’s East India, Bermuda, and Virginia Companies, were all commercial trading companies, based, to one degree or another, on the Venetian model. At their worst, these companies looted raw materials, slaughtered indigenous populations, and created a never-before-existing global slave trade. These companies, particularly the English and Dutch, were the forefathers, so to speak, of today’s Anglo-Dutch financial oligarchy. The colonists of New England, however, had a different mission, and it is they who were the true founders of our American Republic.
First, to set matters straight, there was no group of people actually called "Pilgrims." That was a term invented later. The colonizers of New England were largely drawn from, what were then called, religious "non-conformists." In late 16th-Century England, that broad term encompassed a wide variety of groups, including Puritans, separatists, Presbyterians, Baptists, and others. Our story, however, concerns one particular non-conformist group, the one which founded the Plymouth Colony in 1620, and, for the sake of avoiding confusion, we will refer to them as the Pilgrims, even though they never used that term.
There would have been no Pilgrim church, nor a Mayflower voyage, but for the efforts of two men, William Brewster and John Robinson. Brewster was the organizer of the first Pilgrim religious congregation, the prime mover behind the idea of emigration to America, and the ruling Elder of the church at Plymouth, until his death in 1644. John Robinson was the pastor of the church, its leader during the 12 years in Holland, and the individual who defined its purpose and mission. From 1606 to 1625, Brewster and Robinson were both targets of the Stuart monarchy. Arrest warrants were issued against Brewster in 1606 and 1607, and he was the prey of an extensive royally ordered manhunt in the Netherlands from 1618 to 1620. Robinson’s influence was considered so dangerous by the oligarchs in London, that the Privy Council itself intervened to prevent his emigration to America.
Brewster was no stranger to high-level political affairs. As a young man, from 1582 to 1589, he served as assistant and protégé to William Davison, Queen Elizabeth’s junior Secretary of State. He accompanied Davison on two diplomatic missions to the Netherlands, and during their years together, rubbed shoulders with many of England’s elite, including Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, and Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex. In 1587, Elizabeth made Davison the scapegoat for the execution of the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots, whose death warrant she had signed, but left ambiguously in the hands of her Privy Council to carry out. Davison, who had served as messenger on behalf of the entire Council, was thrown into the Tower of London. Brewster continued to serve him during his two-year imprisonment, but when Davison was released, Brewster retired from London political life, and returned to his family home in the Nottingham town of Scrooby. 
During these later years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, England was being torn apart by religious and political strife. When James I became King in 1603, hopes were high for a national reconciliation, but the new king proved himself to be a pawn of the Venice-allied Cecil family. In 1604, James convened a religious conference at Hampton Court, at which all of the dissident religious factions were ordered to submit to the authority of the Crown and the hierarchy of the Church of England. Shortly thereafter, a new wave of religious repression against Catholic, Puritan, and separatist "recusants" (those who failed to attend a required minimum number of Anglican church services) was unleashed.
It was in response to this persecution that Brewster, together with a handful of others, including the ministers John Robinson and Richard Clyfton, organized an independent religious congregation which began meeting regularly at Brewster’s home in Scrooby, northeast of London. It is from the Scrooby congregation that the majority of the passengers on the Mayflower came.
In 1607, the Privy Council ordered an even more brutal repression of non-conformists. Speaking of the situation in Scrooby at that time, William Bradford would later write: "They could not long continue in any peaceable condition, but were hunted and persecuted on every side, so as their former afflictions were but as flea-bitings in comparison of these which now came upon them."
Arrest warrants were issued twice for Brewster. Bradford writes that after the second arrest warrant, "Seeing themselves thus molested, and that there was no hope of continuance there, by a joint consent they resolved to go into the Low Countries, where they heard was freedom of Religion for all men." The Scrooby congregation decided to flee England, an illegal act, and after a failed attempt in 1607, about 120 managed to get over to the Netherlands in 1608.
In Amsterdam, they joined with two other exiled English congregations, which had preceded them. One was the Gainsborough congregation of John Smythe, which had fled England about one year earlier. The other was the "The Brethren of the Separation of the First English Church in Amsterdam," the famous Church of the Ancient Brethren, under Rev. Francis Johnson, which had been founded in London in 1592.
From Amsterdam to Leyden
The Amsterdam to which the Pilgrim Brethren fled in 1608 was rapidly becoming something other than the haven of religious toleration and the promise of republicanism which had existed in earlier days. The establishment of the Dutch East India Company in 1602 signalled a profound change, and this was followed by the opening of the Bank of Amsterdam a few years later. A new Venetian system, with values antithetical to those of the Pilgrims, was coming into existence.
The Pilgrims’ stay in Amsterdam lasted less than one year. In addition to the ominous political trends in the city, they were greatly disillusioned with the activities of the other English exiles.  The congregations of Johnson and Smythe were mired in internal bickerings, charges of corruption, and religious sectarianism. In 1609, Robinson and Brewster moved their church to the university city of Leyden, where they would remain for 11 years. Both Robinson and Brewster became teachers at the University of Leyden, and during later political storms, their influential Dutch friends at the university intervened repeatedly, in attempts to protect them.
The move to Leyden was almost blocked through the direct intervention of the Stuart monarchy. In 1609, the English Ambassador, Sir Ralph Winwood, acting on behalf of King James, wrote a letter to the Leyden Burgomasters, demanding that they refuse to allow Robinson and his followers to settle there. The Burgomasters denied the English request.
As things went from bad to worse in both England and the Netherlands, Robinson and Brewster taught, wrote, recruited, and built their movement. Bradford says, "Many came unto them from divers parts of England; so as they grew to a great congregation." Newcomers came from Amsterdam’s Ancient Church, as well as from London, Boston, Hull, Kent, and Yorkshire, eventually totalling over 300. These recruits included Isaac Allerton, Robert Cushman, Edward Winslow, Thomas Brewer, and John Carver, who married Robinson’s sister.
Robinson’s writings established him as a prominent figure in the ranks of English non-conformists, both in England and the Netherlands. In 1616, Brewster, together with William Brewer, established a printing press at Leyden which, in addition to printing Robinson’s works, turned out a steady stream of books and pamphlets critical of the Stuart monarchy and the leadership of the Church of England. These works influenced not only the exile community; they were smuggled into England and had a powerful effect on the larger Puritan community there.
From Leyden, the combined efforts of Robinson and Brewster were directed straight at the essence of the evil they saw engulfing England. This was a battle which went to the heart of matters such as the nature of man, and the purpose of the nation-state.
2. The Mission
In a speech delivered in Washington D.C., on Jan. 11, 2006, Lyndon LaRouche, discussing the historical mission of America, had the following to say:
Now, we have a very simple universal principle, which starts all modern civilized society: That principle is called in Greek agapé, as in the mouth of Socrates in Plato’s Republic; as in I Corinthians 13, again, agape. It’s called the General Welfare, the principle of the General Welfare, on which all modern civilized society is based. The principle of the General Welfare: That man and government exists, for what purpose? What’s the intention of the existence of man, and government? It’s to provide for the welfare, of future generations of mankind according to what? According to the requirement of the development of the character and quality of mankind. And the improvement of the universe by virtue of the existence of that mankind!
The principle of the General Welfare, as expressed in summation in the Preamble of the Federal Constitution, is the fundamental law. Proceed from that, not from the so-called positive law.
In the modern era, the idea of judging a government’s legitimacy, based on that government’s commitment to the General Welfare or the Common Good, arose out of 15th-Century Renaissance Europe. Underlying this idea of a political (civil) state based on the General Welfare was a conception of man as a rational creature, made in God’s image—i.e., a recognition that there is an unbridgeable species distinction between the divine spark of creativity inherent in all human beings, and the nature of all the lower beasts.
Nicholas of Cusa, the individual most responsible for initiating the Renaissance, wrote in 1433, in Book II of his Concordantia Catholica, "Since Natural Law is based on reason, all law by nature is rooted in the reason of man." And in Book III of the same work, he says, "There is in the people a divine seed by virtue of their common equal birth and the equal natural rights of all men, so that all authority—which comes from God as does man himself—is recognized as divine when it arises from the common consent of all the subjects.... This is that divinely ordained marital state of spiritual union based on a lasting harmony by which a commonwealth is guided in the fullness of peace toward eternal bliss."
The Pilgrim Church, Agapé,
This idea, of the rational nature of man, and that only a society based on the principle of the Common Good is coherent with that nature, defines the mission of the Pilgrim Brethren. Their unswerving commitment to that mission was a beacon, which set them apart from almost all other separatist and Puritan groups. Many of the Protestant churches were sectarian, sometimes fanatical, and almost always intolerant. The remarkable thing about the church of John Robinson and William Brewster was that it was none of those things. In practice, it was tolerant, to the extreme, of other churches and religious views. Robinson also warned against the dogmatic fundamentalism of the other churches. In his Farewell Address to the Pilgrim emigrants in 1620, as reported by eyewitness Edward Winslow, Robinson "took occasion also miserably to bewail the state and condition of the reformed churches, who were come to a period in religion, and would go no further than the instruments of their reformation. As for example the Lutherans—they could not be drawn to go beyond what Luther saw.... And so also the Calvinists, they stick where he left them; a misery much to be lamented.... He also put us in mind of our church covenant, at least that part of it whereby we promise and covenant with God, and one with another, to receive whatever light or truth shall be made known to us...."
But these differences pale in importance to the quality with which Robinson’s ministry is most identified: an unwavering commitment to agape and the Common Good. At the time of Robinson’s death in 1625, a collection of 62 of his essays, which had been written over many years, was published under the title, Observations Divine and Moral. Representative titles include "Of God’s Love," "Of Created Goodness," "Of Equability and Perseverance in Well-doing," and "Of Society and Friendship." The following brief quotes give a very accurate picture of the essence of the motivating beliefs of Robinson and his Brethren:
Robinson’s Parting Instructions
When the Pilgrims left Holland, Pastor John Robinson wrote a farewell letter to the departing brethren, to be read by them on route to the New World. A comparison of this letter with the later Mayflower Compact, shows how carefully the voyagers heeded his instructions. To his brothers and sisters, Robinson wrote:
... After this heavenly peace with God and our own consciences, we are carefully to provide for peace with all men what in us lieth, especially with our associates.... Your intended course of civil community will minister continual occasion of offence, and will be as fuel for that fire, except you diligently quench it with brotherly forbearance.... That with common employments, you join common affections truly bent upon the general good, avoiding as a deadly plague all retiredness of mind for one’s own personal advantage.... Let every man repress in himself, and the whole body, in each person (as so many rebels against the common good) all private respects of men’s selves not sorting with the general conveniency.... Another thing there is to be carefully provided for, to wit, that with your common employments you join common affections truly bent upon the general good....
Lastly, whereas you are become a body politic, using among yourselves civil government, and are not furnished with any persons of special eminence above the rest, to be chosen by you into office of government, let your wisdom and godliness appear, not only in choosing such persons as do entirely love and will promote the common good, but also in yielding unto them all due honor and obedience in their lawful administrations.... And this duty you both may the more willingly and ought the more conscionably to perform, because you are at least for the present to have only them for your ordinary governors, which yourselves shall make choice of for that work.
These words were Robinson’s final instructions to those who sailed for America. To their credit, and the benefit of future generations, the Mayflower voyagers kept Robinson’s trust.
3. The Peril
By 1617, the situation facing the Leyden congregation was desperate. The English and Dutch governments were determined to eradicate the church, its leaders were being hunted, and Europe was plunging headlong into the bloody Thirty Years’ War. Political and military developments throughout Europe threatened to obliterate all opposition to oligarchical rule. Compounding this crisis were the continuing reverberations of the 1582 revolution in Venice, which brought Paolo Sarpi’s Giovani party to power, and set into motion the project to create new Venetian clones in the northern parts of Europe.
This crisis had been building for several decades. The Commonwealth heritage of Queen Elizabeth’s grandfather Henry VII was largely a memory by the end of Elizabeth’s long reign, as religious strife and Venetian subversion brought England almost to the point of ungovernability. Venetian agents, such as the powerful Cecil family, disoriented and manipulated Elizabeth, particularly after her excommunication by Pope Pius V in 1570. Following the royally ordered execution of Mary Stuart in 1587, Elizabeth’s England sank continually deeper into crisis. 
These were also the years in which Venetian-style financial and trading institutions began to appear in London. The year 1581 witnessed the creation of the first of the new joint-stock trading companies, the Turkey Company, co-founded by Cecil and Walsingham. In rapid succession, this was followed by the founding of the Venice Company, the Levant Company, and the East India Company.
Throughout this entire period, religious persecution became more and more acute, as the Church of England began to assume its role as a key institutional pillar of the new oligarchical state. In 1583, John Whitgift became the head of the Church of England, and began a relentless campaign against all non-conformists. In 1592, the separatist Ancient Brethren Church in London was shut down, and three of its principal leaders, Barrow, Greenwood, and Penry, were executed. In 1593, Queen Elizabeth issued Royal Statute 35, ordering suppression of all dissidents.
After the ascension of James I, and the Hampton Court Conference of 1604, the situation became even worse. All tolerance was abandoned, and religious non-conformity was brutally suppressed.
The New Paradigm in London
The 1603 coronation of James I brought the Venetian party more fully into power in London. Many leading English figures now travelled to Venice and consulted with Paolo Sarpi. Robert Cecil, who remained Secretary of State when James took the throne, had paid his visit in earlier years. Others in Sarpi’s orbit included Francis Bacon, William Cavendish, and Thomas Hobbes. Both Hobbes and Cavendish would later become major players in the Virginia Company.
The creation of a new Venice in London also required new theories of international law, trade, and economics, to justify the anti-Commonwealth practices of a new maritime/financial empire. At Oxford, the Aristotelian scholar Albericus Gentilis (Alberico Gentile), the leader of a pro-Venetian circle which included John Donne and Henry Wotton, provided that epistemological basis. Gentilis’s major work, De Iuri Belli Libri Tres (Three Books on the Laws of War), which contains a strong defense of the practice of enslaving native populations, dismisses the idea of a society based on the Common Good, and instead argues for a theory of international law based on the primacy of private property rights (see box).
This idea, of the subjugation of the state to private property rights, also figured heavily in the work of Gentilis’s contemporary Edward Coke, the "father of English Common Law." History books often portray Coke as the champion of the "rights of Parliament" and the supremacy of the "Common Law" against the absolutism of the Stuart monarchy. But the political allies of Coke, including Cavendish and others, were precisely the group intent on importing the Venetian system of a maritime/financial empire, and a legal system grounded in "private property rights," into England. In his major work, Institutes of the Laws of England, Coke defends the 1618 establishment of slavery in the new Virginia colony, and justifies slavery, by saying, "An individual taken in battle should remain bound to his taker forever, and he to do with him, [and] all that should come of him, his will and pleasure, as with his beast or any other cattle, to give, or to sell, or to kill." 
In the Low Countries—the hoped-for haven of the Pilgrim Brethren—events were also taking a very bad turn. Earlier, in 1572, William of Orange (William the Silent) had raised the banner of revolt against the horrific religious persecution and economic looting inflicted on the Netherlands by the Spanish Hapsburgs. The Dutch revolt was not a religious or Protestant rebellion; it was a war for national salvation.  By 1579, the northern provinces had been liberated and the Union of Utrecht was proclaimed. In the treaty which formalized that Union, William insisted on the inclusion of a clause (Article 13) guaranteeing liberty of conscience in religious worship, and prohibiting the persecution of anyone for religious reasons. Two years earlier, William had issued an order to the Magistrates of Middleburg, stating, "We declare that you have no right to interfere with the conscience of anyone, so long as he has done nothing that works injury to another person." In 1581, the Magistrates of the University of Leyden, which had been founded by William in 1575, issued a declaration which said, "Liberty has always consisted in uttering our sentiments freely; and the contrary has always been considered the characteristic of tyranny. Reason, which is the adversary of all tyrants, teaches us that truth can be as little restrained as light."
By the 1580s, hundreds of English men and women, seeking to escape persecution in their own land, began crossing over into the Netherlands.
But in 1584 William the Silent was murdered by a Jesuit assassin, and the Dutch situation immediately went off the track, albeit gradually at first. By 1600 the Netherlands was being transformed into the Venice of the north (see box). Amsterdam, previously a second-tier city, was built up as the new financial center, with the direct financial backing of Venice, as well as Venetian-allied emigrés from Antwerp, such as the families of Jan de Wael and Jacob Poppin. In 1602, the Dutch East India Company (the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or VOC) was founded under the leadership of Oldenbarneveldt and Grotius. In 1608, the new stock market opened, and the Bank of Amsterdam began operations the next year, thus putting into place the private financial triumvirate, which de facto ruled the Netherlands.
In 1606, the Dutch government offered military aid to Venice during the Interdict crisis, after the excommunication of the Doge and Paolo Sarpi. In 1609, Venice became the first government to recognize Dutch independence from Spain, and Oldenbarnevelt’s son was sent to Venice as the first Dutch Ambassador. By 1610, Venice and the Netherlands were de facto military allies, as the Dutch fleet patrolled the Adriatic Sea to protect Venice from a Spanish attack.
The Crisis: 1618-1620
In 1617, John Robinson and William Brewster made the momentous decision to remove their congregation from Leyden to the New World in America. Their situation in the Netherlands was hopeless. The English throne, in cooperation with the Dutch government, was targetting the Pilgrim church for destruction, and the Netherlands, together with the rest of Europe, was speeding headlong into war. As William Bradford, later the Governor of the Plymouth Colony, wrote, "For the 12 years of truce were now out: and there was nothing but the beating of drums and preparing for war." In early 1618, the Dutch government signed a formal military alliance with the Venetian Senate, guaranteeing that the Dutch would be drawn into the war.
Even more dangerous was the threat from London. In 1610, with the publication of his A Justification of Separation from the Church of England, John Robinson became one of the most dangerous critics of the Stuart regime in London. In this work, Robinson flatly denies the validity of a "national" church, and the idea of royal supremacy over the church. He emphasizes that a church is "a company ... , gathered into the name of Christ by a covenant made to walk in all the ways of God known unto them."
In 1616, William Brewster and Thomas Brewer established the Choir Alley Press, and for the next 2½ years they published a steady flow of books and pamphlets attacking James I and the leadership of the Church of England. At that point, the Crown moved directly against the Leyden Church. King James issued orders to seize the printers and have "the Devil rise their souls and bodies all in collops and cast them into hell." Then he sent over to Holland, as his new Ambassador, Sir Dudley Carleton, formerly the English Ambassador to Venice and a friend of Paolo Sarpi, with orders to shut down the press and arrest the publishers.
The Dutch government, including the States General, as well as the Stadtholder Maurice (the Prince of Orange), cooperated fully with the English manhunt against Brewster and Brewer. In December 1618, the States General banned all "unlicensed printing." The location of the press was secret, and for two years, English and Dutch authorities searched for its location. On Sept. 13, 1619, Carleton sent a letter to King James stating that he has spoken personally with the Prince of Orange to secure the arrest of Brewster and the shutdown of the Pilgrim Press. Carlton reports, "Brewster keeps mostly to Amsterdam, but he is not yet to be lighted upon.... I shall lay wait for him there and in other places." Shortly after this letter, the printing presses were located and seized, and Brewer was arrested. Brewster slipped through the net and escaped.
On Oct. 23, 1619, King James wrote a letter to Carleton, ordering him to pursue and arrest Brewster. This was followed by several more letters from James and his Secretary of State, Robert Naunton, and efforts to find Brewster continued through November and December.
That same year, Robinson published A Just and Necessary Apology, in which he challenged the oligarchical system being established in England, saying, it is "by the people whose liberty, and right in voting, we thus avow, and stand for, in matters truly public and ecclesiastical."
On Jan. 12, 1620, the Dutch States General banned the printing of any "slanderous" pamphlets in the Netherlands. This ban, adopted at the insistence of King James’ Privy Council, specifically outlawed the printing of all religious pamphlets and books by resident foreigners in the Netherlands.
Through the remainder of 1619 and into 1620, Brewster was a hunted man, with a royal arrest warrant over his head. He was not found in the Netherlands because he was already secretly back in England, together with Robert Cushman, involved in secret negotiations to effect the emigration of the Church to America.
In London, the Privy Council blocked all efforts of the Pilgrims to emigrate. Finding no outlet in England, Robinson then made arrangements, in April 1620, with Dutch merchants to transport the congregation to America, but Prince Maurice personally intervened and ordered the merchants to break off negotiations. Finally, in the Spring of 1620, agreement was reached with a group of English investors, the "Merchant Adventurers," to transport them. But the cost was high. Robert Cushman and John Carver were forced to agree to onerous financial conditions, which would make the colonists little more than vassals. At the same time, the Merchants were adamant that Robinson would not be allowed to go. Brewster, who had been in hiding for over one year, managed to board the Mayflower, incognito, under the name of Master Williamson. John Robinson was never allowed to leave the Netherlands.
4. The Genesis of America
The Pilgrim exodus began on July 22, 1620, when more than 100 members of the Leyden Church sailed from the Dutch port of Delft (Delfshaven). The majority of the congregation was left behind, with the plan to join them later in the New World. In describing the scene at Delft that day, one of the participants, Edward Winslow, wrote, "Never, I persuade myself, never people on earth lived more lovingly together, and parted more sweetly than we, the Church of Leyden." The emigrés sailed first to England, where they were delayed for almost seven weeks, and they did not finally depart for America until Sept. 6. They were forced to change their port of departure from London to Southampton, because of the certainty that Brewster and others would have been arrested in London.
The Mayflower arrived at Plymouth on Dec. 21, 1620. A second ship, the Fortune, arrived 11 months later, bringing 32 more colonists. In 1623, new colonists arrived on two more ships, the Ann and the Little James. By the Autumn of 1623, there were about 180 people living in the colony, almost all of whom were from the Leyden Church. Passengers on the Mayflower became known as the "old stock," and, in later years, the passengers in these first four ships were known throughout New England as the "old comers."
The first Winter was incredibly hard. Most of the voyagers arrived at Plymouth very ill, and the first house built became a hospital. Between Dec. 1 and May 1, one half of the company died, many from acute pulmonary tuberculosis ("galloping consumption"). During the first two years of 1621 and 1622, the Pilgrims existed in a condition of semi-famine, which reached near and real starvation by the Winter of 1622-23. In the Summer of 1623, a promising crop was almost completely destroyed by drought.
From the start, the colony was under the thumb of both its financial controllers, the Merchant Adventurers, as well as the royally chartered Plymouth Company, which held their patent (legal right to emigrate). The Plymouth Company, and its later reincarnation the Council for New England, had a monopoly on English settlement in New England, and its leader, Ferdinando Gorges, was very close to the Stuart monarchy, with aspirations to a personal feudal empire in America.
In November 1622, King James issued a royal proclamation prohibiting unauthorized trade in the area under the jurisdiction of the Council for New England, making it illegal for the Plymouth Colony to have business dealings with anyone, except those approved by Gorges. In the same year, Gorges attempted to take direct control of all New England colonization by establishing a "proprietary" system of hereditary estates, with land grants to the nobility. Gorges’s son sailed, with two Anglican clergy, to establish a new colony in Massachusetts, and to "take control" of all of New England. The Gorges colony failed during the first Winter, and all its survivors returned to England.
During 1623 and 1624, several attempts by John Robinson to leave the Netherlands and emigrate to the Plymouth Colony were blocked by the Merchant Adventurers, undoubtedly acting on instructions from the Privy Council and the Church of England. During that same period, there was an unsuccessful attempt by a group of the Merchant Adventurers to take legal "property right" control of the Plymouth Colony and reduce the Pilgrims to tenant farmers. This attempt was defeated by the Pilgrims’ agents and allies in London.
The most serious attempt to force subjugation came in 1624, when the Merchant Adventurers sent over a Puritan minister from the Church of England, Master John Lyford, with written instructions that the Pilgrims adopt the Presbyterian discipline. This was a demand to accept total subservience to the Episcopal Church, and the political machine associated with the Church and the monarchy. The Pilgrim leaders refused to back down and expelled Lyford from the colony.
In 1625, the Merchants sent a letter to the colony, reiterating their demand for a role in the Plymouth government. They informed Brewster, Bradford, and the other colony leaders, that they would block all attempts to bring John Robinson over from Leyden, unless he would submit to the authority of the Anglican Church.
On May 13 of the same year, the new English King, Charles I, issued a royal proclamation, announcing that there would be "one uniform government" throughout his entire realm, including most definitely, the Virginia and New England colonies. On Dec. 1, Roger White, the deacon of the (still existing) Leyden Church, sent a letter to William Bradford, warning of the deadly threat that this proclamation posed to the Plymouth Colony.
The Plymouth leadership knew that the colony would not survive unless they freed themselves from London’s interference, particularly the oppressive control of the Merchant Adventurers. Miles Standish was sent to London, with instructions to reach a deal to buy out the Merchant Adventurers, to whom the colonists still owed £1,400. This attempt failed, but a second group, led by Isaac Allerton, was sent over the next year to continue the negotiations, and in 1627, a deal was signed, whereby eight of the Pilgrim leaders agreed to buy out the Merchant Adventurers and assume their debt, which was renegotiated to £1,800, to be paid over nine years. This left them deeply in debt, but henceforth largely independent from outside interference.
Two more ships arrived in 1628 and 1629, bringing additional brethren from Leyden into the colony, and in 1630, Governor Bradford was able to obtain a new legal patent for the colony, which gave them legal independence from the Council of New England. In the 1630s, the colony finally began to thrive, and by the end of the decade, it included eight separate towns.
A Commonwealth Seedling
Brewster, Bradford, Allerton, and the other Plymouth leaders never wavered from the parting instructions given to them by John Robinson in 1620: "You are become a body politic, using among yourselves civil government, and are not furnished with any persons of special eminence above the rest, to be chosen by you into office of government, let your wisdom and godliness appear, not only in choosing such persons as do entirely love and will promote the common good, but also in yielding unto them all due honor and obedience in their lawful administrations...."
The paradigm for the way in which the Plymouth Colony organized its civil affairs is found in the nature of the Leyden Church itself. Unlike the Presbyterian system of almost all of the other Puritan and separatist churches, Robinson developed a model, which would later be called Congregationalism. Democratic in spirit, the Leyden Church emphasized the participation of all members in the day-to-day affairs of the church. More to the point, the Pilgrim church, with its emphasis on agape, saw in each one of its Brethren, the potential for a human being to walk "in imitation of Christ." Robinson also initiated a unique innovation, the concept of "Teaching Elders." Other Protestant churches had a hierarchy of a minister, and what were called "Ruling Elders," which were bureaucratic positions of authority. Robinson required that all Elders to be able to teach and lead the congregation.
The Plymouth Colony was not a theocracy. From the beginning, all major government officials were elected by majority vote. This was codified with the adoption of a constitution for the colony in 1636. Because of the Pilgrims’ policy of religious toleration, as the years passed, several persecuted groups, such as Quakers and Anabaptists, settled in the colony. They were all allowed to vote, and to fully participate in the colony’s civil affairs. There was an absolute separation of religious and civil government, and church officials were banned from elective office, which explains why William Brewster never served in the Plymouth government. In the absence of Robinson, it was Brewster, as the elected Elder of the congregation, who led the Plymouth Church.
John Robinson died at Leyden in 1625, but in those crucial first five years of the Plymouth Colony’s existence, he fought, from Leyden, to sustain the colonists through their worst crises, and keep them steadfast to their adopted mission.
After the news of the colony’s first catastrophic year reached Robinson, he immediately dispatched a letter in June 1621, which was read to all the colonists at a public meeting. It said in part, "Much beloved Brethren.... The deaths of so many, our dear friends and brethren, oh! how grievous hath it been to you to bear, and to us to take knowledge of; which, if it could be mended with lamenting, could not sufficiently be bewailed; but we must go unto them, and they shall not return unto us.... In a battle it is not looked for but that divers should die; it is thought well for a side if it get the victory, though with the loss of divers, if not too many or too great. God, I hope, hath given you the victory...."
In the Summer of 1623, another letter from Robinson arrived in the colony, saying, "Let it not be grievous to you that you have been instruments to break the ice for others who come after with less difficulty; the honor shall be yours to the world’s end."
Robinson also intervened in the problem of the colony’s relations with the native Indians. When he was informed that Miles Standish had killed several Indians during a confrontation, he sent a letter to Plymouth reprimanding Standish and stating that, in their treatment of the Indians, the colonists must exhibit "that tenderness of the life of man, made after God’s image." In 1621, a treaty of peace was signed with the local Indian tribes, and in October of that year, the colonists and their Indian friends jointly celebrated the first Thanksgiving—which occurred in fact, and is not folklore.
In describing John Robinson, and his leadership of the Pilgrim Brethren, William Bradford would later write in On Plymouth Plantation:
Yeah such was the mutual love and reciprocal respect that this worthy man had to his flock and his flock to him.... It was hard to judge whether he delighted more in having such a preacher, or they in having such a pastor. His love was great towards them, and his care was always bent for their best good, both for soul and body; for besides his singular abilities in divine things, he was also very able to give directions in civil affairs.... And none did more offend him than those who were close and cleaving to themselves, and retired from the common good.
Robert Cushman’s Sermon
When the Fortune arrived at Plymouth, among the passengers was Robert Cushman, who had been recruited to Robinson’s church in Holland from the Ancient Brethren congregation. On Dec. 21, 1621, Cushman preached a sermon to the 100 or so combined colonists at Plymouth. Titled "The Sin and Danger of Self Love," Cushman’s sermon was based on the phrase "Let no man seek his own but every man another’s wealth," from I Corinthians 10:24. In this sermon, Cushman said:
I charge you, let this self-seeking be left off, and turn the stream another way, namely, seek the good of your Brethren. Please them, Honor them, Reverence them.... Every man must seek the good of another.... Howsoever, some may think this too large a practice, since now the world is so full of people, yet I see not but the more people there is, the larger Charity ought to be.... We are bound each to other, so that his wants must be my wants, his sorrows my sorrows, his sickness my sickness, and his welfare my welfare, for I am as he is. And such a sweet sympathy were excellent, comfortable, yea, heavenly, and is the only maker and observer of Churches and commonwealths.... Men are forced to ask sometimes rather than starve, but indeed in all societies it should be offered to them.... What is man if he be not sociable, kind, affable, free-hearted, liberal; he is a beast in the shape of a man.... Nothing in this world doth more resemble heavenly happiness, than for men to live as one, being of one heart.
If there is any doubt about the unique orientation of the Plymouth Colony, in the very same sermon Cushman warns the Plymouth colonists about the developments occurring at the Jamestown, Virginia colony:
It is reported that there are many men gone to that other Plantation (Jamestown) in Virginia, which, whilest they lived in England, seemed very religious, zealous, and conscionable, and have now lost even the sap of grace, and edge to all goodness, and are become mere worldlings.... Men come out of discontentment in regard to their estates in England; and aiming at great matters here, affecting it to be Gentlemen, Landed men, or hoping for Office, Place, Dignity, or fleshy Liberty; let the show be what it will, the substance is naught, and that bird of self love which was hatched at home, if it be not looked to, will eat out the life of all grace and goodness: and though men have escaped the danger of the Sea, and that cruel mortality, which swept away so many of our loving friends and brethren; yet except they purge out this self-love, a worse mischief is prepared for them.
When Cushman returned to London, he published a pamphlet, Emigration to America, urging the advantages of settling in the New World. In it he wrote, "A man must not respect only to live and do good to himself, but he should see where he can live to do most good to others." This pamphlet was widely read during the 1620s, and influenced many, probably including the circles around John Winthrop.
5. John Winthrop and the Boston Colony
In 1626, a new wave of immigrants arrived in New England with the establishment of the Puritan Colony in Salem. Additional reenforcements came over during the next three years, including the Puritan leader John Endicott in 1628. In 1630, the banner year, witnessed the arrival of the large Puritan expedition consisting of ten ships and over 800 passengers, led by John Winthrop, and leading to the rapid settlement of Boston.
In March 1630, on the eve of their departure from England, John Winthrop delivered an address to the Puritan colonists. This speech was later published under the title A Model of Christian Charity. Winthrop’s notable comments include:
The coherence of these views with those of John Robinson and the Pilgrim Brethren is obvious.
The mission of John Winthrop was to create a Commonwealth in the New World. This article is not the place for a lengthy description of the Puritan colonization. The best political source for that story is in H. Graham Lowry’s How the Nation Was Won. But a brief description of the dirigist measures undertaken by the Winthrop leadership will demonstrate how aggressively the Puritans pursued that goal. Some highlights follow:
Liberty and Republican Government:
In a 1645 speech, Winthrop set forth his notion of republican liberty, saying that there is the natural liberty of beasts to do what one likes, which "makes men grow more evil, and in time, to be worse than brute beasts," but also the higher Civil (or Federal) liberty, which "is liberty to that only which is good, just, and honest."
In 1641, the Massachusetts government ratified a "Body of Liberties," and this was followed, in 1648, with a "Declaration of Laws and Liberties."
In 1635, the first free grammar school opened in Boston. In 1640, New England Cambridge College (later Harvard College and University) opened, and in 1647, the Massachusetts government enacted a law, requiring that "every town of 100 families or more shall provide free common and grammar school instruction." As John Cotton said in Christ the Fountain of Life, "Zeal is but a wild fire without knowledge."
Economic and Monetary Policy:
Winthrop fought for an economic policy based explicitly on the Common Good. He battled all attempts of the London merchants and speculators to loot the colony with policies of free trade and usury. Winthrop denounced "the common rule that most men walked by in all their commerce, to buy as cheap as they could, and to sell as dear."
One initiative was the idea of a "just price." In 1635, the General Court (the Massachusetts government) appointed nine men to set prices on incoming items, and in a 1639 sermon, John Cotton said, "A man may not sell above the current price, i.e., such a price as is usual in the time and place, and as another would give for it if he had occasion to use it.... In case private men cannot agree on a common estimate, the governor, with one or more of the council will be able to make the matter clear...."
Faced with the widespread bankruptcy among farmers, the government enacted debt relief, and allowed debts to be paid with grain, livestock, etc. They also ruled that legal cases of debt must be tried where the plaintiff lives (i.e., Massachusetts debtors could not be brought to court by their creditors in England). Another bill provided that the Commonwealth assume the debts of those unable to pay.
On the question of usury, Winthrop wrote, "Thou must observe whether thy brother hath present or probable, or possible means of repaying thee, if there be none of these, thou must give him according to his necessity, rather then lend him.... If he hath present means of repaying thee, thou art to look at him, not as an act of mercy, but by way of commerce, wherein thou art to walk by the rule of Justice."
John Cotton said, "No increase to be taken of a poor brother or neighbor, for anything lent unto him."
In 1652, the Massachusetts government went a step further with the creation of its own mint, and the issuance of its own currency, the Pine Tree shilling. This step short-circuited the attempts by London creditors to impose a financial stranglehold on the colony, and provided the needed capital for economic development.
In 1642, Winthrop’s son, John Winthrop, Jr., organized the founding of "The Company of Undertakers for the Iron Works in New England." Two years later, the New World’s first ironworks opened in Braintree, Massachusetts. The General Court promised the company free land, tax exemption, a 20-year monopoly on iron production, and other privileges, provided it produced finished bar iron, and on the condition it could export only that portion that was not needed in New England.
In 1647, the ironworks was relocated to a more suitable site in Saugus, and within one year, it was producing a ton of iron per day! By 1650, the ironworks included a blast furnace, a refinery, a trimming mill, storage barns, warehouses, and a private wharf. An inventory showed 113 tons of iron on hand. All this was accomplished in an area which only 20 years earlier had been a wilderness, with not a single European settlement.
The Pilgrims and the New England Puritans
The Pilgrims and Winthrop’s Puritans were bound together by more than just their joint commitment to the Common Good. The connection between the two groups began even before the Pilgrims left Leyden, and their friendship deepened after the Winthrop fleet arrived in 1630.
The religious connection goes back to at least 1611, when John Robinson began a correspondence with the English Puritan theologian William Ames. This developed into a deep friendship, and Ames, who would years later be described by Cotton Mather as the "greatest" of the Puritan theologians, became a staunch defender of Robinson, against some of the more vicious of his Puritan critics. The second book published by the Brewster-Brewer press was a work by Ames, and Henry James, a Puritan minister and close ally of Ames, left the Netherlands in order to establish a new church in London, modelled on Robinson’s Leyden congregation.
The political connection, as well, originated during the Leyden years. In their 1617-19 efforts to obtain support in England for the voyage to America, Brewster and Cushman enlisted the support of the Earl of Lincoln. In May 1619, the Earl sent his chaplain John Wincob to King James’ Court to apply for an emigration patent for a colony in northern Virginia ["Virginia" covered a much larger area then, than it does today. Northern Virginia probably referred to roughly the southern part of what is now New York State—ed.]. Although some within the Virginia Company had held out the prospect of financial support, and the company did approve the patent to settle within their territories, no aid was forthcoming, and the company leadership denied transport despite repeated requests from Pilgrim representatives in London who were prepared to pay for it. The patent was therefore never used. The obtainer of that patent was the same Lord Lincoln who ten years later hosted the meeting at his home where the Massachusetts Bay Company was created and where Winthrop was elected as Governor. Lincoln’s sister Arabella would later sail with Winthrop on the voyage to Boston, and would die in the new Massachusetts Colony.
When John Endicott arrived at Salem in 1628 to establish a permanent Puritan colony, he was immediately befriended by the Plymouth leadership, and the survival of the Salem venture would not have been possible without aid from Plymouth. In 1629, the Salem Colony adopted the Plymouth Congregational church system, and in 1630, a second Puritan church, at Charlestown, followed the Salem model.
On the eve of the 1630 Winthrop expedition, John Cotton, who would become the pastor of the Boston Puritan church, advised the Puritan emigrants to "take the advice of them at Plymouth." Later, in Boston, Cotton would abandon the Presbyterian practices of the English Puritans and adopt the principles of church organization laid down by John Robinson. In his work Way of the Congregational Churches, Cotton speaks of Robinson with nothing but praise. In the Summer of 1630, extensive discussions were held in Boston between John Winthrop and the Pilgrim Samuel Fuller, on the Plymouth "congregational way." On July 25, 1630, Winthrop wrote a letter to the Salem church, asking for advice on establishing a Boston church. The Pilgrim leaders Fuller, Winslow, and Allerton were all present in Salem when the letter was received, and they played a major role in framing the reply. Two years later, Winthrop travelled to Plymouth for meetings with Brewster, Bradford, and others.
These developments provoked strong opposition in England, from both the Anglican hierarchy, as well as from leading Puritans, and then, after the triumph of the Puritans in the English Civil War, from the new Puritan rulers in England. One London Puritan leader charged the Bostonians, "The Brethren in New England did depart from the Presbyterian Government.... This mischief had been prevented if my counsel had been taken, which was that brethren driven thither by Episcopal persecution should agree upon Church Government before they depart from hence."
Cotton of Boston and Winslow of Plymouth both sent replies back to London, defending the New England church practices, and in 1648, the Cambridge (Massachusetts) Church Synod formally endorsed the New England Congregational Church system. Later, in 1669, Cotton’s son, also named John, moved to Plymouth and became the pastor of the Pilgrim church.
The attacks from London on the Boston Colony were not only religious in character. As early as 1629, Winthrop encountered violent opposition against his emigration plans from the same Ferdinando Gorges who had earlier tried to destroy the Plymouth Colony. In 1634, and again in 1638, the Privy Council of King Charles sent letters to Boston demanding that the colony’s leaders return the royal charter to the Crown. Throughout the 1630s, the Massachusetts project was under constant attack from the Venetian faction in London.
But the Massachusetts project survived, greatly aided by the support of the Plymouth leadership. William Brewster was regularly visited at Plymouth by Boston leaders, for consultation on pressing matters. His guests included Charles Chauncy, the second president of New England Cambridge College, and also Rev. John Norton, who later succeeded John Cotton as the pastor of his church in Boston.
Brewster’s eldest son, Jonathan, helped found the new Connecticut colony. In 1648, he moved to New London and became a Deputy to the Colony Court (legislature), serving together with, and allied to, John Winthrop, Jr.
In 1643, Plymouth and Massachusetts joined with the Connecticut colonies of New Haven and Hartford to create the New England Confederation, the first attempt to establish regional self-government in the New World. The Confederation had its own legislature, and it lasted for 50 years. By 1675 the total population of New England was about 43,000 with one half in Massachusetts Bay, 7,000 in Plymouth, and about 14,000 in Connecticut. In 1691, the Plymouth Colony voted to become part of Massachusetts and ceased to exist as a separate political entity. Henceforth, their destinies would be joined politically as well as philosophically.
In 1699, Mary Allerton Cushman, the last surviving passenger of the Mayflower, died, bringing to an end the temporal mission of the original Plymouth settlers. By then the tree of republicanism and agape had taken firm root, and a new generation was emerging, educated in the idea of a society based on the Common Good, where the purpose of one’s life is "to do good." The next New England generations, of Cotton Mather and Benjamin Franklin, would remain true to that commitment, and they would eventually succeed in establishing the first independent republican Commonwealth in the long history of the human species.
William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation: from the original manuscript (Boston: Wright & Potter, state printers, 1899).
Robert Cushman, The Sin and Danger of Self Love (1621), available at http://members.aol.com/calebj/sermon.html.
Henry Martyn Dexter and his son Morton Dexter, The England and Holland of the Pilgrims (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1905).
Albert Eekhof, Three unknown documents concerning the Pilgrim fathers in Holland (The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1920).
Rendel Harris and Stephen K. Jones, The Pilgrim Press; a bibliographical & historical memorial of the books printed at Leyden by the Pilgrim fathers (Cambridge, England: W. Heffer & Sons Ltd., 1922).
Ashbel Steele, Chief of the Pilgrims: or, The Life and Time of William Brewster (Freeport, N.Y., Books for Libraries Press, 1970).
Dr. J.W. Verburgt, ex-archivist of Leyden, The Pilgrim fathers at Leyden, Holland (Leyden: Published on the initiative of the Municipal Corporation of Leyden, 1955).
William Sterry-Cooper, Edward Winslow (Halesowen, England: Reliance Printing Works, 1953).
Edward Winslow and William Bradford, Mourt’s Relation (1622), available at http://members.aol.com/calebj/mourt.html.
Edward Winslow, Good Newes from New England (1624), available at http://www.mayflowerhistory.com/PrimarySources/GoodNews.pdf.
Edward Winslow, Hypocricie Unmasked (1646), available at http://www.mayflowerhistory.com/PrimarySources/ HypocrisyUnmasked.pdf.
The Collected Works of John Robinson, pastor of the Pilgrim fathers (Boston: Doctrinal Tract and Book Society, 1851).
Words of John Robinson [microform] (Boston: Directors of the Old South Work, 1903?).
Walter H. Burgess, John Robinson, pastor of the Pilgrim fathers: a study of his life and times (London: Williams and Norgate; New York: Harcourt, Brace & Howe, 1920)
Ozora S. Davis, John Robinson, pastor of the Pilgrim fathers (Hartford: Hartford Seminary Press, 1897).
Rev. F.J. Powicke, John Robinson (1575?-1625) (London: Hodder and Stoughton, Ltd., 1920).
Charles Boxer, The Dutch Seaborn Empire (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1965).
Hugo Grotius’s major writings, including De Jure Praedae Commentaris (Commentary on the Law of Prize and Booty); and Mare Liberum (The Freedom of the Seas or the Right Which Belongs to the Dutch To Take Part in the East Indian Trade).
Larry Neal, Venture Shares in the Dutch East India Company (New Haven: Yale School of Management, 2003).
Friedrich Schiller, History of the Revolt of the Netherlands (English translation, The Anthological Society, 1901).
Jan den Tex, Oldenbarnevelt (Cambridge, England: University Press, 1973).
William J. Bouwsma, Venice and the Defense of Republican Liberty (University of California Press, 1968)
Paolo Sarpi, The Sovereignty of Venice in the Adriatic (1615)
J.S. Bromley, E.H. Kossmann, Britain and the Netherlands in Europe and Asia (New York: Macmillan, 1968).
Albericus Gentilis, De Iuri Belli Libri Tres (Three Books on the Laws of War), translation by John Rolfe (Oxford, 1933).
Noel Malcolm, Aspects of Hobbes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2002).
Theodore K. Rabb, Jacobean Gentleman: Sir Edwin Sandys, 1561-1629 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998).
Richard D. Richards, The Early History of Banking in England (London: 1929).
E. Gurney Salter, Tudor England through Venetian Eyes (London: Williams & Norgate Ltd., 1930).
Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson, The School of Salamanca: Readings in Spanish Monetary Theory, 1544-1605 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952).
Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson, Early Economic Thought in Spain 1177-1740 (Australia: Allen & Unwin Pty., Ltd., January 1978).
Francisco de Vitoria, De Indis et de Ivre Belli Reflectiones (1532).
On Nicholas of Cusa and the Commonwealth principle in history, see various articles by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., and Helga Zepp-LaRouche. These are too numerous to list here, but can be found at www.larouchepac.com and www.larouchepub.com.
H. Graham Lowry, How the Nation Was Won: America’s Untold Story (Washington, D.C.: Executive Intelligence Review, 1988).
Various original documents, available from The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/avalon.htm.
 After Davison’s release, there was still some small hope for his future. In 1590, Elizabeth’s senior Secretary of State, the ruthless spymaster Francis Walsingham, died. The Earl of Essex lobbied strenuously for the appointment of Davison as his successor, even writing to King James of Scotland to intervene on Davison’s behalf—not the wisest move, since Davison had been punished in the first place for his role in the execution of James’s mother, Mary. Unfortunately for Davison, the power vacuum left by the deaths of Walsingham, and other of Elizabeth’s Old Guard, was a Venetian playground, pitting the manipulable Essex—allied to the brothers Francis and Anthony Bacon—against the Venetian-model Cecil family of father William (Lord Burlegh, the Lord Treasurer), and son Robert. The post went to Robert Cecil, and Davison’s career was over.
 The Pilgrims found many friends in the Ancient Church, including Henry Ainsworth, who later became the pastor. However, they had strong differences with Francis Johnson, and later, when some of Johnson’s followers emigrated to Jamestown, Pilgrim leaders were highly critical of their activities there.
 The greatest source of insight into the events of these years is found in the works of William Shakespeare. His "History" plays detail the murderous era of the Plantagenet monarchs, which preceded the Commonwealth of Henry VII. The Merchant of Venice, produced in 1596, is a dramatic warning against the ascendent Venetian faction in London, and Henry V in 1599 and Julius Caesar in 1600 should have dissuaded Essex and Southampton from their suicidal coup attempt.
 Black African slaves were brought into Jamestown by the Virginia Company as early as 1618, and the first public auction of slaves in Virginia occurred in 1638.
 See Friedrich Schiller, History of Revolt of the Netherlands.