The Thomas Morton New Canaan manuscript is a copy of the 1637 Amsterdam edition of Morton's major work, New Canaan. Antiquarian Samuel Gardner Drake made the transcription in 1830, from John Quincy Adams' printed copy. In addition to a full transcription of all three volumes of the work, Gardner included Adams' and his own sources for further reading on Morton, as well as "Notes by the transcriber," in which he recounted his request to Adams to borrow the work and laid out his reasons for making a copy (p. ii).
Each of the three "volumes" that make up Morton's work addresses a different subject. The first contains information collected by Morton on Native Americans, including a description of a recent deadly plague (p. 23), child-rearing customs (p. 31-32), and lengthy accounts of Native Americans' home, and religious and agricultural practices. Morton was a fairly sympathetic, if at times confused, observer, and found a great deal to praise. In the second volume, Morton focused on the natural features of the New World, and cataloged and commented on a range of trees, herbs, animals, and minerals. He expressed great admiration for the wilderness, calling the New World "a Country so infinitely blest" (p. 92). The third volume satirizes the austerity of the Puritans and criticizes them for the massacre of members of the Massachusett tribe at Wessagusset (p. 111). It also incorporates several poems by Morton.