Of Plymouth Plantation

Of Plymouth Plantation

Of Plymouth Plantation Book 2, Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In 1630, Ashley proceeds to gather “a good parcel of beaver” to ship back to England in his own name. The Pilgrims recognize that Ashley is trying to profit from the colony instead of helping them relieve their debts, but they have no choice but to continue working with him. No supplies arrive for the Pilgrims, leading some to believe that Ashley is neglecting his duties.
Ashley and Allerton are trying to gather their own resources to sell in England. This is a major problem for the Pilgrims, since every beaver fur that Allerton and Ashley sell represents a fur that the Pilgrims could have sold to escape from debt.
Themes
Debt and Religious Capitalism Theme Icon
After some time, the Pilgrims elect to send Mr. Edward Winslow to England to investigate Ashley and Allerton’s behavior. They give Winslow authority to discharge Allerton from his duties to the Pilgrims. Then, in the summer, an English ship finally arrives. However, the ship has barely survived a storm, meaning that it’s lost most of its provisions. The sailors report that Allerton will soon be back in America aboard a ship called the White Angel. Shortly afterwards the White Angel arrives; however, Allerton insists that most of the ship’s goods aren’t intended for the Pilgrims. Around the same time, Ashley is arrested for selling guns to Indians, and sent away from America. He later drowns on a voyage home from Russia. The Pilgrims send letters to Mr. Winslow asking him to dismiss Allerton from “having anything to do with any of their business.”
The Pilgrims eventually decide that’s it’s not in their interests to cooperate with Allerton and Ashley anymore. Even if it means losing some business connections in England, they send Winslow to discharge Ashley from his duties. Note that, like many of the villainous characters in the book, Ashley meets with an untimely end at the hands of an angry God—a clear punishment for his sins, according to Bradford.
Themes
Christianity Theme Icon
Debt and Religious Capitalism Theme Icon
Another milestone of 1630 is the execution of John Billington—the first use of the death penalty in the Plymouth Plantation. Bradford arranges for Billington to be tried for murder, and Billington is found guilty. John Winthrop, the governor of the Massachusetts Bay, advises Bradford to execute Billington immediately, since Billington, a “profane Londoner,” has been a troublemaker for a long time.
The idea of using the death penalty in Pilgrim society might sound rather un-Christian—but in fact there’s a lengthy Biblical precedent for executing sinners, and it fits the Pilgrims’ emphasis on the harsher and more judgmental aspects of Christianity. The use of the death penalty in Plymouth, one could argue, signals the growing strength and confidence of the Pilgrim state headed by Bradford—people approving of state-sanctioned violence means that the state is successfully maintaining its authority.
Themes
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Bias and Propaganda Theme Icon
War, Violence, and the State Theme Icon
In the summer of 1630, disease breaks out in the colony of Charlestown. In a letter, a member of the Plymouth Plantation who is staying in Charlestown reports that many in Charlestown look to Plymouth for guidance in their time of crisis. Bradford concludes his chapter by celebrating how Plymouth grew “out of small beginnings” to become a respected colony.
Once again, Bradford takes it as a sign from God that his colony is blessed with health while other, presumably less Christian colonies are afflicted with disease.
Themes
Christianity Theme Icon
Bias and Propaganda Theme Icon
Debt and Religious Capitalism Theme Icon
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