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Meticulously researched, passionately told, this is a tale of high adventure, courage, conviction and deceit, presented in large part in the words of its participants, culminating in a supreme act of treachery at the height of a terrifying ("hideous") storm on the North Atlantic.

It is the story of the first flowering of religious toleration in English-speaking America. This toleration characterized the Pilgrims at Plymouth in their relationships with the "strangers" among them and with the Native Americans who surrounded them. The book focuses on a single leader in the toleration movement, William Vassall, who sought to formalize the policy and to extend its reach to the much larger Massachusetts Bay Colony, of which Vassall was one of the principals, established in Boston a decade later than Plymouth. But the behavior of Massachusetts Bay Colony toward outsiders of all kinds came to contrast sharply with the toleration in Plymouth, as a repressive and intolerant theocracy hijacked the Bay Colony's political and religious life.

The book was written over a period of years, mainly in the nineteen sixties. During preparation of this Internet edition, it has not been practical to check all the references for inadvertent errors or misinterpretations by transcribers. We would greatly appreciate any corrections of fact or additions that readers might be able to contribute.

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