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Samoset (also Somerset, c. 1590–1653) was an Abenaki sagamore (sub-chief) and the first American Indian to make contact with the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony. He startled the colonists on March 16, 1621 by walking into Plymouth Colony and greeting them in English, which he had begun to learn from fishermen frequenting the waters of Maine.
Samoset was visiting Wampanoag chief Massasoit at the time of the historic event. He entered the settlement at Plymouth, greeted the colonists in English, and asked for beer. He spent the night with the Pilgrims on that occasion, then returned at another time with five other Indians who brought deer skins to trade. It was a Sunday and the colonists declined to trade that day, but they offered the men some food. Samoset came back on March 22, 1621 with Squanto, the last remaining member of the Patuxet tribe. Squanto spoke much better English than Samoset, and he arranged a meeting with Massasoit
In 1624, English Captain Christopher Levett entertained Samoset and other Indian leaders in the harbor of Portland, Maine. Samoset is believed to have died around 1653 in Bristol, Maine.
The name Samoset is probably inaccurate, a selective mishearing by the Englishmen, who interpreted it as "Somerset," a busy fishing port.
"Interview of Samoset with the Pilgrims," engraving from an unspecified 1853 book via Wikipedia.
|42k||Samoset (YT-5) assists USS Antares (AG-10) as she departs Philadelphia Navy Yard, bound for Panama, 01 March 1923.
Naval History & Heritage Command photo NH 759
|166k||Cropped detail of above photo showing Samoset in closeup.||Dave Wright|
|967k||Samoset (YT-5) moored at Pier 1, Philadelphia Navy Yard, 05 June 1926.
Naval History & Heritage Command photo NH 43689
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This page was created by Gary P. Priolo and is maintained by David L. Wright|