Of Plymouth Plantation Book 2, Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes
Of Plymouth Plantation

Of Plymouth Plantation

Of Plymouth Plantation Book 2, Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In 1641, Mr. Sherley writes to William Bradford, the Governor of Plymouth once more, about his financial situation. He urges Bradford to send more money, claiming that the Pilgrims’ accounts are not yet settled. He also suggests that the Pilgrims might one day return to England, since the influence of Catholicism has almost been vanquished there.
Bradford is governor of Plymouth once again, and so it falls to him to correspond with Sherley. Notice that Sherley raises the possibility of the Pilgrims returning to England. Although Bradford doesn’t address this statement, it should be clear by now that Bradford and the Pilgrims have no intention of returning: they’ve established their own society and their own unique culture in America.
Themes
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The original shareholders living on the Plymouth Plantation must decide how to close their affairs with Sherley. They make detailed records of all their debts to Sherley, and come up with the figure of 1400 pounds, taking a “solemn oath” that the figure is no greater than that. On October 15, 1641, they write out an agreement for Mr. Sherley, in which they offer the sum of 1400 pounds as a final payment for the White Angel and all outstanding debts. Bradford writes, “Next year this long and tedious business came to an issue … though not to a final end.”
The Puritans decide that they owe Mr. Sherley 1400 pounds, and swear that the amount is no greater than that. The Pilgrims remain—or at least claim to remain—extremely honest about their financial situations, in contrast to many of the businessmen they have to deal with.
Themes
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Bradford next discusses the career of Reverend Charles Chauncey, who had arrived in Plymouth in 1638. Chauncey serves as a minister in the community, but argues with other religious authorities about baptismal rites. He claims that sprinkling the infants with water is “unlawful,” and that the correct practice is to dip the infant in water (which the Pilgrims haven’t done, due to cold weather). Chauncey leaves for another community rather than compromise. Around the same time, the Plymouth community goes through financial troubles; prices drop, and many Pilgrims migrate to other towns.
The Plymouth Plantation has its own unique religious practices, adapted (however slightly) to the New England environment. Notice that, much as the Pilgrims themselves left their community rather than compromise on their religious convictions, Chauncey is now leaving Plymouth rather than compromise his own.
Themes
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Debt and Religious Capitalism Theme Icon