September ye 15th, 1682
To Ye Aged and Beloved, Mr. John Higginson:
There bee now at sea a shippe (for our friend Mr. Esaias Holcroft of London did advise me by the last packet that it wolde sail some time in August) — called ye Welcome, R. Greenaway, master, which has on board an hundred or more of ye heretics and malignants called Quakers with W. Penne who is ye chief scampe at ye hedde of them. Ye General Court has accordingly given secret orders to Master Malachi Huscott of ye brig Porpoise to waylaye ye said Welcome slylie as near ye coast of Code as may be and make captive ye said Penn and his ungodlie crewe so that ye Lord may be glorified and not mocked on ye soil of this new countrie with ye heathen worship of these people. Much spoyle can be made of selling ye whole lotte to Barbadoes, where slaves fetch goode prices in rumme and sugar and we shall not only do ye Lord great good by punishing ye wicked but we shall make great gayne for his ministers and people. Master Huxett feels hopefull and I will set down the newes he brings when his shippe comes back.
Yours in ye bowels of Christ, Cotton Mather
First printed in an article of the Easton, Pennsylvania Argus (28 Apr 1870), written by James F. Shunk, who claimed that the letter had been found in a "chest of papers" donated to the Massachusetts Historical Society. Though denounced as a forgery almost immediately, the letter continues to circulate now and again (as a particular juicy bit of invective against Puritan hypocrisy). The evidence for considering it a hoax by Shunk is given in Hathaway, "'Ye Scheme to Bagge Penne': A Forged Letter Smears Cotton Mather," The William and Mary Quarterly (Jul 1953).
Added on 21-Sep-22 | Last updated 21-Sep-22
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