The Trials of Thomas Morton An Anglican Lawyer, His Puritan Foes, and the Battle for a New England Peter C. Mancall

Publication date:
14 Jan 2020
Yale University Press
296 pages: 210 x 140mm
19 b-w illus.

A new look at Thomas Morton, his controversial colonial philosophy, and his lengthy feud with the Puritans

Adding new depth to our understanding of early New England society, this riveting account of Thomas Morton explores the tensions that arose from competing colonial visions. A lawyer and fur trader, Thomas Morton dreamed of a society where Algonquian peoples and English colonists could coexist. Infamous for dancing around a maypole in defiance of his Pilgrim neighbors, Morton was reviled by the Puritans for selling guns to the natives. Colonial authorities exiled him three separate times from New England, but Morton kept returning to fight for his beliefs.
This riveting counternarrative to the familiar story of the Puritans combines a rich understanding of the period with a close reading of early texts to bring the contentious Morton to life. This volume sheds new light on the tumultuous formative decades of the American experience.

Peter C. Mancall, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities and professor of history and anthropology at the University of Southern California, is the author of six books about early America. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

“Thomas Morton is one of the great anti-heroes in American history. Attorney, trader, Puritan critic, Native American admirer, Morton at last has the biography his picaresque life deserves. Peter Mancall’s deeply researched and beautifully written book brings Morton to life and promises to change the way we think about early America.”—Louis P. Masur, Rutgers University