"Cast thine eyes upon this new land, that shall be thy new home. Go forth and sow the crop so ye may reap the grain. And killeth all natives who get in thy way."

Pilgrims. They were like the street gangs of the early 1600's.

They fought the locals for turf, they sold their drug, (well, their version of a drug, christianity), they were ruthless towards their enemies, and they all had cool street names, like, Miles 'Pada-pow' Standish, and John 'J-dawg' Smith.

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All right. Maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. (maybe not, though. Prove no one called Miles Standish 'Pada-pow'...)

A lot of people have misconceptions about the pilgrims, the natives, and the local situation when they arrived.

There are a lot of people who think the pilgrims landed on the shores of an untamed wilderness. Land that hadn't even been settled by the natives yet. And, if the pilgrims hadn't been befriended by a few natives who happened to be in the area, they would have died. And then they repaid that help by killing the natives and stealing their lands.

That's not entirely true, though.

Before the pilgrims landed, Spanish ships had sailed up the coast of America, and they reported that the coast was densely populated, and that the camp fires were so plentiful that the smoke from them could be smelled for a hundred miles from shore.

Yet, when the pilgrims got there, there weren't any natives around.

Curious, what?

As it turns out, shortly before the pilgrims landed, the worst plague to ever hit mankind had just run it's course up and down the American coast. 96% of all natives died. Compare that to the worst of Europe's plagues where the death toll was about 50%. (in Europe, local death tolls could be higher, but overall, it was about 50%)

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In fact, the native that first befriended the pilgrims was the sole survivor of the tribe that inhabited the area before the plague wiped them out. And, he had come into contact with Europeans before the pilgrims got there. And the pilgrims were very lucky he had, because he knew a little english. Enough to understand the pilgrims and to make himself understood.

The American east coast had an estimated population in the millions before the plague hit. There were cities where the tribes lived and traded. It was anything but an untamed wilderness.

A lot of people think the first European settlers to the east coast waged a war of land acquisition against the natives, nearly wiping them out in the process.

The truth is, mother nature did it before they got there.

That's not to say that in later years, as the white people moved west they didn't commit genocide. They did. But when they first got to the new world, there weren't very many people here.

When most people think about plagues, they think back to Europe in the dark ages. Not many realize that the worst plague to ever strike humanity struck on the North American coast and killed more natives than the white man did. (initially, that is. I'm not talking about the westward expansion that started in the mid 1800's. Also, I'm not counting the conquistadors in South America and Mexico that wiped out the Inca.)

The point of my telling you about the plague that killed so many natives is: IF YOU HAVE A COLD, STAY THE HELL HOME SO YOU DON'T GET ME SICK!