Of Plymouth Plantation

Of Plymouth Plantation

Of Plymouth Plantation Book 2, Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In 1632, Isaac Allerton sails to England in the White Angel. He later sells the ship in Spain, as he had originally planned—“what became of the money he best knows,” Bradford writes. Although Allerton’s actions have increased the colony’s debts, Plymouth continues to thrive. The Pilgrims produce plentiful corn and raise strong cattle—commodities that they ship back to England for a high price.
Allerton proceeds with his plans to sell the White Angel, apparently indifferent to the economic hardship his behavior is causing the Pilgrims. However, the Pilgrims manage to continue paying off their obligations—presumably due to hard work and God’s continued approval.
Themes
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The Pilgrims’ growing fortunes create new problems, however: they need more land. Furthermore, the church is becoming less united. The Pilgrims who live in an area known as Duxbury demand that they be included in “a distinct body.” To preserve unity, Bradford arranges to give plentiful Duxbury land to handpicked Pilgrims, in the hopes that they’ll inspire their neighbors to attend the same church. In the coming years, Bradford’s attempts to preserve unity fall short: as the community expands, some Pilgrims insist on their own church. “This,” he writes, “I fear will be the ruin of New England.”
The growth of the Plymouth Plantation creates a logistical problem, and in some ways the plantation is a victim of its own success. On one hand, the colony is getting larger and wealthier, which means that it needs more land. But more land means that the people are more spread out and isolated, and therefore less loyal to Bradford’s centralized authority. Bradford speculates that this process of decentralization will corrupt New England. Despite this, for years New England remained a close-knit, well-organized territory, because, although the towns were becoming more spread out, the state authority was becoming more powerful and aggressive (which readers should notice in the final chapters of the book).
Themes
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Later in 1632, a ship returns from England, bringing goods Mr. Sherley has sent to the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims accept the goods and send the ship back with eight hundred pounds worth of goods. They also send Sherley detailed records of Allerton’s accounts, asking Sherley to go through them and identify all instances of wrongdoing. The ship is caught in a storm near Virginia, but the crewmembers are able to get to land with the letters in their possession.
Bradford continues to give details of financial transactions and trade between the colony and England.
Themes
Debt and Religious Capitalism Theme Icon