They Knew They Were Pilgrims Plymouth Colony and the Contest for American Liberty John G. Turner

Publication date:
26 May 2020
Yale University Press
456 pages: 235 x 156mm
28 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

In 1620, separatists from the Church of England set sail across the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower. Understanding themselves as spiritual pilgrims, they left to preserve their liberty to worship God in accordance with their understanding of the Bible.

There exists, however, an alternative, more dispiriting version of their story. In it, the Pilgrims are religious zealots who persecuted dissenters and decimated the Native peoples through warfare and by stealing their land. The Pilgrims’ definition of liberty was, in practice, very narrow.
Drawing on original research using underutilized sources, John G. Turner moves beyond these familiar narratives in his sweeping and authoritative new history of Plymouth Colony. Instead of depicting the Pilgrims as otherworldly saints or extraordinary sinners, he tells how a variety of English settlers and Native peoples engaged in a contest for the meaning of American liberty.

John G. Turner is professor of religious studies at George Mason University and the award-winning author of Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet. He lives in Burke, VA.

“This highly important book will become the new standard work on the Plymouth colony.”—Thomas Kidd, author of Who Is an Evangelical?

“Compulsively readable, lively, and engaging…”—Jenny Hale Pulsipher, author of Swindler Sachem