Saints & Strangers: Lives of the Pilgrim Fathers and Their Families
A great deal has been written about the Pilgrims, perhaps more than any other small group in American history. Yet they continue to be extravagantly praised for accomplishing what they never attempted or intended, and they are even more foolishly abused for possessing attitudes and attributes foreign to them. In the popular mind they are still generally confused, to their great disadvantage, with the Puritans who settled to the north of them around Boston Bay. The purpose of the Willison narrative is to allow the Pilgrims to tell their own story, insofar as possible, in their own words and deeds.
Saints and Strangers brings back to life men and women who were among the most stalwart of American ancestors. George F. Willison destroys the myth that too long has been created in the American mind: that Pilgrims, while pious and much to be admired, were a drab, stern people dedicated to prudery. Nothing could be further from the facts. These were lusty English people who were well aware of good food, drink, and pleasurable living. They were also an adventurous, hardheaded community united in their campaign for freedom of worship.
The book takes the reader from the Puritan exile in Holland, their long and troubled voyage from old Europe to new America, and the hazardous period of settling on a strange, bleak coast. The Puritans were comprised of weavers, smiths, carpenters, printers, tailors, and working people—with scarcely a blue blood among them. It was a long trek to Plymouth Rock from English village life. Willison has produced a realistic picture of these people who often have been inaccurately portrayed with little appreciation of their substantial place in the history of a New World.
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Even for those, who might not have any proven genealogical connection with any of those living in the Plymouth colony, Willison’s book adroitly covers family names and their position in this experiment with even some direct quotes from Bradford’s historical details germane to the often challenging success of these early pioneers to America. His careful listing of these families with considerable facts would be reason enough to own this book, for many of the families in America made and are still making marks of dedication to the principles of freedom and their dedication to the values found in the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence, many of those ideals advanced in the struggling efforts by these early saints and strangers. Impressive, too, are the results of the consequences learned from the amalgamation of the native American tribes in their efforts to help educate the saints and strangers about the nature of land and to whom it belongs, all of it failing in comparison to the European model of land ownership advocated by the adventurers in the new land, this point woven in and throughout Willison’s treatment of the subject of cultural and attitudinal differences. His is a dedication to facts carefully interwoven into the chronological events that preceded the final solution to America’s gaining eventually its sovereignty.
What does the book lack is a fair amount of evidence to support that the survival of this community could not possibly have occurred without the intervention of God, who at all times seems masterminding and leading these “reprobates” from the old world to a stark form of independence, a grasp of cooperative enterprise, and a recognition of the tokens of blessings flowering by reason of the Native Americans’ sense that they were playing a part in the survival of these adventuresome and freedom-loving independents and rough-shod loyalists. David D. Dickson
this is a good book, I have a first edition (no cover) from my dad's library. If anyone wants to buy it...! But yes this is a good and thoughtful history, quite enjoyable as well