Atheist Responsible for Shootings
“Atheist” Thomas MortonThomas Morton was born into a conservative High Church Anglican family in Devon, England around 1578. As a High Church Anglican, he shared many traits with Catholicism that would naturally bring him into conflict with the Plymouth evangelical Puritans. Having studied law in the 1590s at London’s Clifford’s Inn, he was exposed to many influential contacts that became lasting friendships. The libertine culture to which he was exposed during his studies necessarily set him on a collision course with Puritans in New England. Eventually, he settled into the service of Sir Ferdinando Gorges (1565-1647), the governor of the English port of Plymouth, and colonial entrepreneur. Gorges who was an associate of Sir Walter Raleigh and had been part of Robert Devereux’s Essex Conspiracy, was known as the “Father of English Colonization in North America” and founder of the Province of Maine (1622), though Gorges never set foot in the New World. Thomas Morton spent three months on an exploratory trip to America in 1622 but returned to England by 1623, complaining of the Puritans there. The following year (1624), Morton joined a Crown-sponsored trading venture to New England as a senior partner with Captain Richard Wollaston of the ship Unity and thirty indentured young men or “servants.” Captain Wollaston, Morton, “Mr. Rasdell” and the thirty young men (among others) settled on a small tract of land given to them by the Algonquian tribes and began trading for furs and provisions, but soon expanded into a farming community known, in honor of the captain, as Mount Wollaston (now Quincy, Massachusetts). A break came in Wollaston and Morton’s relationship when Morton realized that Wollaston, who had traveled to Virginia with many of the indentured young men, began selling the young men into slavery on Virginian tobacco plantations. Wollaston wrote to the third “chief partner” of the venture, “Mr. Rasdell,” to request that the other young men be brought to Virginia. Before the young men could be sent to Virginia, Rasdell, who was the merchant of the venture, temporarily left Mount Wollaston and assigned an officer, Lieutenant Fitcher, as his deputy while Rasdell was away. Realizing Wollaston’s intent to sell the remaining young men, Morton convinced the young men to rebel and drive Lieutenant Fitcher away, which they more than willing to do. In 1628, Governor Bradford reflected upon the details of the Plymouth Colony’s experience with the members of neighboring Mount Wollaston. As noted by Governor Bradford, these events occurred several years earlier. The “atheistic” beliefs and behavior of Morton, in particular, caused great suffering in and around the colony.
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 Bradford’s wrote Plymouth Plantation over a period extending from 1620 to 1657.
 Indentured servitude was a form of debt bondage. It was established in the early years of the American colonies (and elsewhere) and was used as a means for poor teenagers or young men from Britain and the German states to secure free passage to the colonies. The expense of their passage was worked off over a fixed number of years. Once the ships carrying the young men arrived in America, employers purchased indentured servants from ship captains. Both employers and indentured servants were obligated to fulfill their duties to the contractual relationship.
 Emphasis added to the original text.
 A Christian anathema for the immoral practices of Morton and his companions.
 This practice had been forbidden by the King. Contemporary scholars minimize this practice, but it is evident from Bradford’s accounts that it was a very serious matter. See Plymouth Plantation, 193.
 William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation: Bradford’s History of the Plymouth Settlement, 1608-1650; Original Manuscript Rendered into Modern English by Harold Paget, 1909 (San Antonio, TX: The Vision Forum, Inc. and Mantle Ministries, 2003), 193-199. Updated orthography.