An Original Founder's Letter Describing the Voting for the
Creation of the United Colonies
"The New England Confederation"
Edward Winslow, Passenger on the Mayflower, Governor of Plymouth Colony
To John Winthrop, Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony
April 13, 1643
The New England Confederation
was the first attempt to set up systematic legal, commercial and legislative ties between individual colonies founded by different groups under different charters; to provide some form of federated self-government. It constituted the first indigenous governing body established in the North American colonies.
In this letter, Edward Winslow, a principal founder of the New England Confederation, and Plymouth's official representative, tells John Winthrop, the representative from Massachusetts:
"Concerning the Union [Articles of Confederation] our Magistrates and Deputies approve well of what is done, and two of our townes passed if before the Court. Vizt Plimoth and Marshfield: the rest of the Deputies carried it from the Court to their townes to be confirmed none doubting of it, and with order to return their votes this month.
Winslow (1585-1655), one of the original Pilgrims who landed with the Mayflower at Plymouth in December 1620, was chosen as envoy to Chief Massasoit and made the colonists' first treaty with the Indians: he and Mvles Standish together were the Pilgrim's most important contacts with the natives.
He also mentions cattle in this letter, which is especially interesting, for Winslow had been the first to bring cattle into the New World colonies in 1623.
Winslow made a number of trips back to England to work for the affairs of the new colonies and on one such visit was imprisoned for illegal preaching. Throughout his life he remained active in the legislative and commercial affairs of the colonies: he set up trading posts in Maine, Cape Cod and on the Connecticut River. He served as Governor of Plymouth in 1633, 1636 and 1644 (all officials served terms of one year). He was a principal organizer of the New England Confederation, and was Plymouth's official representative. Winthrop was Massachusetts' representative.