Thomas Morton, New English Canaan or New Canaan manuscript (copy by Samuel Gardner Drake)  1830
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Thomas Morton

Thomas Morton was born around 1575 in Devon, England. In the late 1590s, he studied law at Clifford's Inn in London. Although in his work he referred to himself as the son of a soldier, little else is known of his parentage. On November 6, 1621, he married Alice Miller, a widow. Morton made his first trip to North America in spring 1624, on the Unity . He and the other travelers landed at present-day Quincy, Massachusetts, and settled at Passonagessit. Morton eventually became leader of the colony, which he called Ma-re Mount (widely known as Merrymount). In 1627, he was forcibly sent back to England after offending the Plymouth colonists by selling firearms to Native Americans and erecting a maypole. He returned to the New World in 1629, but was again banished to England in 1630, this time by members of the Massachusetts Bay Company, whose charter included rights to the Merrymount's land. Upon his return to England, he challenged the authority of the Massachusetts Bay colonists, first by legal means, and then through publication of a book satirizing them, New English Canaan. The book's first printing was seized by agents of the Massachusetts Bay Colony before distribution, but a second publication in Amsterdam (1637), found a somewhat larger audience. In 1643, Morton made a final trip to North America, where he was again arrested, and made his way to Maine after his release. He reportedly died there in 1646 or 1647.

Samuel Gardner Drake

Samuel Gardner Drake was born October 11, 1798, to farmers Simeon Drake and Love Tucke. He grew up in Pittsfield, New Hampshire, and as a young man, taught school in New Hampshire and New Jersey. In 1828, after publishing a new edition of Benjamin Church's Entertaining History of King Philip's War, Drake moved to Boston and opened the "Antiquarian Book-Store," the first of its kind in the United States. In 1845, he co-founded the New England Historic Genealogical Society. A prolific collector, upon his death in 1876, he left a collection of 15,000 volumes and 30,000 pamphlets related to early American history.