John G. Turner discusses early slavery in Sowams

Americans have been telling two very different stories about the Pilgrims. One is the tale of brave religious refugees who established Thanksgiving and democracy in the New England wilderness. The other is the story of unscrupulous invaders who betrayed their Indian allies, stole their land, and went to war against them. John G. Turner narrates a more complex history in They Knew They Were Pilgrims: Plymouth Colony and the Contest for American Liberty, tracing the contested meanings of liberty – and slavery – in the seven-decade history of Plymouth Colony. Click here for a one-hour video of his presentation. Click here for an audiobook preview.


Author John Turner is introduced by Massachusetts Historical Society Assistant Program Director Sarah Bertulli for the one-hour talk that begins with Rev. John Myles and the outbreak of the King Philip War.


(Above) The Myles Garrison marker in Swansea, MA, and the original garrison house shown in a picture taken before the structure burned in the early 1900s was the home of Rev. John Myles from Swansea, Wales, during the late 17th century.


A stone marker placed by Barrington Historian Thomas Bicknell indicates the location of the1663 Baptist Church that was burned during the King Philip War. (Click on the photo on the right to enlarge.)


The King Philip War broke out in present-day Warren, (click to enlarge map), and troops were assembled at the Garrison site before marching to Mount Hope in present-day Bristol in search of Metacom. John Myles is buried in the Tyler Point Cemetery in nearby Barrington.

Click here for a 29-minute video of Dr. Francis Bremer’s interview of Prof. Turner about his book, They Knew They were Pilgrims: Plymouth Colony and the Contest for American Liberty, on December 21, 2020.

Click here for a one-hour video of John Turner’s presentation for the Massachusetts Historical Society on December 14, 2020.

Click here for a presentation by John Turner for the Little Compton Historical Society on November 17, 2020.