Wednesday, June 8, 2016
From the Prologue:
The Pilgrims landed the Mayflower at Cape Cod, Massachusetts on a cold November day in 1620 because they were running out of beer. Their legal charter from King James was for a grant of land in Northern Virginia, but instead they anchored illegally and carved their first community from the sand, laying the foundation of the American character: flinty, rebellious, and inspired by adversity.
From Chapter 1:
Even before the supporting beam at the front of the main mast was shattered by a powerful wave in the middle of the stormy North Atlantic, the voyage of the creaky old Mayflower seemed cursed. She was a sweet ship, so called because she smelled of her previous cargo of wine, which she had carried from Spain to England up the Atlantic Coast of Europe for decades. When a group of exiled English separatists living in Holland stepped in to buy her, the sweetness evaporated. The voyage to the New World was a bitter version of Calvinist Hell. When the Pilgrims finally arrived at their destination, their leader, historian William Bradford, who loved biblical parallels, wrote that what they found was far from a new Eden but "a hideous and desolate wilderness full of wild beasts and wild men."
-Susan Cheever, Drinking In America: Our Secret History