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“The Planters’ Plea” by John White (1630)

  • Topic: New England is a great place to put an English colony & grow our religion
  • We’ve had good contact with the native. There’s good soil, fishing & fur.
    • Before our rift with Spain, we sent 40-50 a year just for fishing. Now the discovery of Newfoundland is more profitable than New England commercially. But New England is still good for small scale fishing
    • People who were sickly & weak in England go there & become stout & healthy. The weather doesn’t go through extremes between the seasons. Our people benefit from this, as do the natives, with little occasion for poor health
    • The local crop growth is good enough for the people to thrive. It may take getting used to but the doctors love it & even if we don’t like it, we can use native English crops, which work well too.
    • There’s lots of fish, venison, but also flax & hemp to make linen
    • The empty space of woods but good farming land. Some of the inhabitants died of plague & demand is high for settlers. The natives have been good in helping with disease & food
  • Our colony wants strong connection to its mother. We are looked down upon & perhaps any success we can get can raise our profile back home
    • These colonies open up employment for many people & the expansion of commerce for our country – fishing, shipping, etc. The timber alone here is enough to supply the navy of all its needs. The ground is right so we don’t need to look to France for wine
  • This colony can benefit the natives
    • We can teach them about God & hard work, some things they seem to be ignorant of. The example of our way of life will civilize them & make them amenable to religion & save their souls
    • But look at Ireland. They need a similar program too. While Ireland has Christianity, they still need the English work ethic. The natives in New England need even more help to get them living good, Christian lives
    • Some will say New England has bad aspects to it like mosquitoes, snakes & wild animals
      • The winter is tolerable & can be fixed by fuel, which there’s plenty of. There’s usually about a foot of snow on the ground lasting about 10 weeks, slightly longer than the worse parts of Germany
      • There are snakes but so far, no one has even died from snake bites. Wild beasts here aren’t any worse than parts of Europe. Mosquitoes can be a problem during the summer. There are fairly good tricks like smoke or keeping your windows closed to fight them off. But again, they’re also a problem throughout Europe
  • It is said that if the spread of Christianity is the goal of the colony, New England is not a great place to do it. Why not focus on places with a population already there?
    • Let’s look at Virginia as an example. They’ve had some problems with the natives, who, out of their heathen nature, are in dire need of our religion. It would calm them down. It would create peace & trade with them would increase
    • Perhaps having a larger population to deal with seem like a good idea to maximize our numbers but having a population of our own people is more likely to spread our religion & our values
  • Some say the place won’t make people enough money to encourage settlement. You’d have to be an expert former or craftsmen to make money
    • The push of the Gospels is enough for many to come here. Piety leads to competence. While heathens may be indolent, Christianizing them will give them a good work ethic

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