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MORTON, Thomas (1564-1659). New English Canaan or New Canaan. Containing an Abstract of New England, Composed of three Books. Amsterdam: Jacob Frederick Stam, 1637.
MORTON, Thomas (1564-1659). New English Canaan or New Canaan. Containing an Abstract of New England, Composed of three Books. Amsterdam: Jacob Frederick Stam, 1637.

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MORTON, Thomas (1564-1659). New English Canaan or New Canaan. Containing an Abstract of New England, Composed of three Books. Amsterdam: Jacob Frederick Stam, 1637.

4o (174 x 130 mm). (Title slightly soiled, closely trimmed at top, just shaving a few headlines and page numbers.) Modern green morocco richly gilt, edges gilt, by W. Pratt for Henry Stevens. Provenance: Henry Stevens (bookplate, binding); Thomas Jefferson McKee (bookplate on rear pastedown); Frank C. Deering (morocco bookplate).

FIRST EDITION of "the most entertaining book on the early Plymouth and Massachusetts colonies. Valuable for natural history and Indians" (Vail). Morton's narrative is as engaging and as controversial as its author: banished from New England three times after his first stay in Weymouth in 1622, Morton was on numerous occasions condemned of "heathenism" for his close relations with the Natives. Among the first fur traders in Maine, Morton antagonized the colonists by selling firearms to the Indians and instructing them in their use (sections on beaver pelts, and notes on Lake Champlain, are included). He further threatened Puritan interests as a key figure in Ferdinando Gorge's attempts to keep the region under the control of the Council for New England.

The three books that comprise the New English Canaan, based on the notes of his legal campaign, made Morton a cause celebré. With the probable assistance of Ben Jonson (whose "Bacchanal Triumph of the Nine Worthies of New Canaan" appears on pp. 146-9) and other literary friends at the Mermaid Tavern, Morton writes an inspired denunciation of the Puritan regime in the colonies and their policy of land enclosure and near genocide of the Native population. In contrast, the latter were described as a far nobler culture, and defined as a Canaan under attack from the "New Israel" of the Puritans. He summed up his magnum opus with a call for the "demartialising" of the colonies and the creation of a multicultural New Canaan along the lines of Merrymount, as well as tantalizingly describing the commercial worth of North America, though something very different would begin to emerge with the reorganisation of New England and the beginning of the Triangular Trade rooted in slavery. Alden & Landis 637/69; Church 437; JCB (3) II:443; Sabin 51028.

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