If you don't read John C. Wright's work, you're missing out. A recovering lawyer and reporter, Wright can WRITE. Guy's an artist. On Thanksgiving, where I write with sarcasm and poor wit, Wright hits it out of the park with an immensely thoughtful post.
Most literate people of my generation know the story of Squanto and
the Pilgrims. I will recount it in brief for those of you who went to
The ship was blown off course by storms, failed to
make port, and put it at Plymouth. Here they found fields already
cleared, and maize stored up, but no people. Had these things not been
here, or had there been any hostile Indians in the area, the Pilgrims
surely would have died.
Even with this help in place, that winder,
the colonists suffered a dramatic death toll due to disease and
starvation. Half were dead, and the half a dozen hale and healthy folk
in the colony tended to the others, dressing meat and cleaning and
changing their soiled clothing for them: five or so nurses tending fifty
or so sick and doing all the other labor of the colony besides.
had seen no Indians save for a few who stood aloof, running away when
approached, or who stole some tools left unwatched during dinner.
ended. In March, an Indian came forth from the woods speaking perfect
English. His name was Squanto. Befriending the Pilgrims, he showed them
were to find fresh springs of water, where and when to fish, where and
how to grow maize (which we Americans to this day call corn) and how to
His story is dramatic and terrible: for he and four
others had been lured aboard an English ship, captured, enslaved, given
away, used as a native guide, and abducted a second time to be sold to
the Spanish. Squanto was saved by a Franciscan friar and set free, and
spent years looking for a way home from Europe.
tribesmen back home had come across sailors shipwrecked on the American
shores, whom they slaughtered, except for three, whom they enslaved, and
sent around from chieftain to chieftain to be tortured for their
The Europeans, however, carried diseases to which the
Northern Americans had never developed any immunities. Before ever the
first Pilgrim set foot on Plymouth Rock, the Patuxet Indian villages
were wiped out by plague so swiftly that the Pilgrims found their huts
still standing, eerie ghost towns, with the dead unburied. The surviving
Indians naturally feared a curse and fled the area, so that by mere
happenstance the one spot in America that was unoccupied was where the
storm-tossed Pilgrims were driven ashore.
Squanto had labored for a
shipbuilder in London and eventually made his way back to Newfoundland,
and, later (on John Smith’s ship) to New England. Here found all his
family dead and his tribe practically extinct.
So the storm just
so happened to blow the Pilgrims into the only spot on the coast where
there was food and cleared fields waiting for them, no enemies, and the
one Indian on the continent who spoke perfect English happened to be
Read the whole thing. HERE Picking a selection was difficult. It truly doesn't encompass this lovely post.
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