|The Open Door Web Site|
The Mayflower settlers named their chosen site Plymouth, after their trading company. The site had a good harbour and there were recently cultivated fields where native Indians had grown maize. On Christmas Day, 1620, (the Pilgrims did not recognize Christmas), work began on building huts.
That winter a terrible disease, which the settlers called "General Sickness", struck the community and half the population died. The disease was pneumonia, aggravated by scurvy. The dead were buried secretly at night since the settlers knew that they were being constantly observed by native Indians.
In March, 1621, a native Indian from the Wampanouy tribe, named Samoset, entered the settlement. To everyone's surprise Samoset spoke English. He had sailed up and down the coast with English fishermen and learnt the language. A trade in beaver furs was opened up.
Another English-speaking native Indian was called Squanto. He had even been to England and returned to America. He served as an interpreter and negotiator with the Indian tribe's chief, Massasoit.
A peace treaty was signed between the settlers and the natives. They would no longer steal from each other. They would not carry weapons when they met together and, if attacked, the two communities would come to the aid of each other. This treaty was respected for fifty years.