Radio broadcast about the Pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts sponsored the Society of Mayflower Descendents on WAAB featuring Gleason Leonard Archer (audio recording and transcript)


Radio broadcast about the Pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts sponsored the Society of Mayflower Descendents on WAAB featuring Gleason Leonard Archer (audio recording and transcript)


28 November 1935


Gleason Leonard Archer Personal Papers, 1880-1996 (MS108)
Series 6 Special Materials, Box 3 Folder 4


View the finding aid to the Gleason L. Archer Papers for more information (PDF).



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Transcription of the Society of Mayflower Descendants Radio Broadcast (MS108/06#07)

Program Title: Society of Mayflower Descendants,
Program Participants: Gleason L. Archer, Francis R. Stoddard, Frederick A. Van Fleet, and Lee O. Wright.
Date of Recording: 11/28/1935 Length of Recording: 25:48
Item Number: MS108/06#07
Citation: Broadcast on WAAB. Society of Mayflower Descendants Radio Broadcast, MS108/06#07. 11/28/1935. Transcript and audio recording available, John Joseph Moakley Archive and Institute, Suffolk University, Boston, MA

Recording Overview: In a special Thanksgiving Day broadcast, Gleason L. Archer, Francis R. Stoddard, Frederick A. Van Fleet, and Lee O. Wright represent the General Society of Mayflower Descendants and its state branches, as they narrate the history of the pilgrims and their spread into the rest of the country. The production was broadcast by the Columbia Network, WAAB, which became CBS. Segments include: Dean Gleason L. Archer (00:04:00-00:09:23), Francis R. Stoddard (00:09:23-00:13:41), Frederick A. Van Fleet (00:13:46-00:18:35), and Lee O. Wright (00:18:36-00:21:54).

Transcript Begins:

HOST: The Columbia Network and collaboration of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants , takes pleasure in presenting a special Thanksgiving Day program. This holiday of the harvest season originated in Plymouth, Massachusetts in November 1621 in celebration of the first harvest in America by the Pilgrim Fathers. It is appropriate therefore, that the Society of Mayflower Descendants, a nationwide organization, every member of which can trace ancestry to a Mayflower passenger should arrange this noteworthy celebration. This program begins in Boston and marches across the country as far as the early morning hours will permit. Taking up programs of celebration in New York City, Cleveland, Ohio and ending in St. Louis, Missouri. The choral music here in Boston will be furnished by the choir of the Zion Lutheran Church under the direction of Carl L. Polovsky. The first speaker is ones whose voice is familiar to radio listeners of all parts of the nation, himself a Mayflower descendent, Gleason L. Archer, Dean of Suffolk Law School, Councilor General of the Society of Mayflower Descendants. But first we shall hear the choir singing, “The Breaking Waves Dashed High.”

(Choir sings)

Host: And now it is our pleasure to introduce Dean Gleason L. Archer.

Gleason L. Archer: The breaking waves still beat upon the long sand bar that guards the harbor of historic Plymouth, but the Mayflower family once sheltered on the Plymouth hillside, has now scattered to the far ends of the earth. The old fashioned New England homecoming of sons and daughters and grandchildren to gather at the ancestral board on Thanksgiving Day is no longer possible. Forty-one years ago however, in December 1894, the Society of Mayflower Descendants was established in the state of New York. Two years later Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania organized state branches and thus the procession began. Twenty-seven state societies from Maine to California are now represented in the General Society of Mayflower Descendants. Thousands of men and women have proved their descent from Mayflower passengers and have joined the society, but there are tens of thousands more who have equal right to blood fellowship in the Mayflower family. In opening this great program today, I wish to consider with you the beginnings of migrations from the original home firesides of Plymouth, the scattering of families and the spreading of pilgrim influence with its resultant leaven of democracy to an ever widening circle of American colonization. That first settlement as you know, during its formative years was the only one on the New England coast. The forests round-about Plymouth were peopled by savage beasts and savage man. Dangers encompassed them on all sides. There was every reason for the requirement that all colonists whatever their daily activities might be, must return to the protection of the Plymouth palisades at night. This legal requirement, as the settlement grew in numbers, had the very important effect of causing the village of Plymouth to become thickly studded with houses. It made for community life. Then since the first-comers reared large families of children Plymouth soon became a miniature city, vibrant with life and pulsing with activity. Small wonder therefor that the leaders of Plymouth colony should guard with jealous eyes this spiritual and social life that had grown up in their village. Small wonder that they joined with Governor Bradford in opposing every effort to break the family circle. Yet, that breaking away from Plymouth however saddening to the heart was inevitable, inescapable. The children of these hardy pioneers had in their veins the same pioneer blood that had caused their fathers to forsake the old world and to brave the unknown dangers of America. To blaze new trails, to plant new villages, to clear forest tracks in an ever extending westward march, was an urge of the blood that could not long be denied. Listen to these words of lamentation from Governor Bradford himself in referring to the first breaking away from Plymouth in the year 1632. Quotation, “By which means they were scattered all over the bay quickly, and the town in which they had lived compactly ‘til now was left very thin, and in a short time almost desolate, and if this had been all it had been less, though too much, but the church must also be divided, and those that had lived so long to gather in Christian and comfortable fellowship must now part and suffer many divisions. First those that lived on their lots on the other side of the bay called Duxbury. They could not long bring their wives and children to the public worship and church meetings here, but with such (inaudible) and growing to some prominent number they sued to be dismissed and become a body of themselves. And so they were dismissed about this time though very unwillingly” end of quotation. Thus began that process of restless expansion through which the children of the first-comers to Plymouth, pioneers in their own right, settled town after town, until all of Southern Massachusetts came under the spell of the settlers’ axe. Then we find the same pioneer stock overflowing the borders of Massachusetts into other states and countries to become a great multitude. The next speaker on this program will be Colonel Francis R. Stoddard, speaking from York City in behalf of the Mayflower Society of the state of New York.

Francis R. Stoddard: The Society of Mayflower Descendants in the state of New York sends Thanksgiving greetings to the town of Plymouth Massachusetts, for our pilgrim forefathers began the great task of civilization in the northern section of the United States. It is my task to outline briefly the story of how the first pioneers of Mayflower lineage came to dwell within the borders of New York State. The Hudson River was discovered by the Dutch in 1609 and a trading post was built by them on the island of Manhattan in 1613. In 1620 when the passengers of the Mayflower landed at Plymouth, New York was yet only a trading post. In 1624, thirty families of Walloons settled on Western Long Island. In 1625 the Dutch West India Company, finding this settlement to be successful, brought over Dutch settlers. It was not until 1626 that all the island of Manhattan was purchased from the Indians. Since most of the settlers came from Holland, the Dutch traits and characteristics prevailed in the settlement of what was called the New Netherlands. The Pilgrims were well acquainted with the Dutch because of the residence of many of them for many years in Leiden. Governor Bradford and certain of the others spoke Dutch almost as well as English. It was therefore natural that trading should take place between Plymouth and the Dutch settlements. In March 1627 messengers arrived at Plymouth from the governor of New Netherlands with letters written in Dutch and French. In these letters the Dutch congratulated the Plymouth settlers on their prosperous and commendable enterprise, tendered their good will and friendly services, and offered to open and maintain with them a commercial intercourse. Governor Bradford and the council of Plymouth sent an obliging answer to the Dutch expressing a thankful sense of the kindness which they had received in their native country and a grateful acceptance of their offered friendship. In September 1627, the Plymouth settlers received a visit from Isaac de Rasieres, secretary of New Netherlands. After he had arrived at the Plymouth trading post at Manomet [Massachusetts], Governor Bradford sent a boat for him and he arrived in Plymouth with the noise of trumpeters in the Dutch style. The people of Plymouth entertained him and his company during several days. Some of the Plymouth people accompanied the Dutch secretary on his return to Manomet and purchased of him some of the commodities which he had for sale. This visit began friendly intercourse between the two colonies. Isaac Allerton, one of the Mayflower passengers, had been a burgess of Leiden . He eventually settled in New Amsterdam where he was a distinguished merchant and a member of the council of eight selected to assist the Dutch governor. After the English captured New Amsterdam, the first English mayor of the newly named New York was Thomas Willet, formerly of Plymouth and an associate of the Pilgrims. Other Plymouth families soon brought the Mayflower stock to New York. The vessel commanded by Captain John Dickinson, who had married a daughter of John Howland of the Mayflower, was wrecked on Long Island. Liking the country he returned to settle there and many of his descendants are still residing in New York. John Pratt, grandson of Degory Priest of the Mayflower, settled in Oyster Bay, Long Island, and many of his descendants are still with us. Another distinguished descendant of the pilgrims was the daughter of the President John Adams and the sister of President John Quincy Adams, who married a New York man, and many of whose descendants are here. Many presidents of the United States have had Mayflower ancestry including the present president [Franklin D. Roosevelt], who previously said as governor of New York. The descendants of the pilgrims have intermarried with the New York families. Among the distinguished New York men who have married Mayflower descendants are Chief Justice Charles Evan Hughes of the United States Supreme Court, and John D. Rockefeller Jr., the great philanthropist. In almost every community there are descendants of the pilgrims who are trying to carry out the patriotic tradition of their forebears, but now my allotted time is expired. The next voice that you will hear will be that of Frederick A. Van Fleet speaking in Cleveland, Ohio in behalf of the Mayflower family in the great state of Ohio, from the studios of station WHK in Cleveland.

Frederick A. Van Fleet: (inaudible) in the radio homecoming of Thanksgiving Day. The thought of Plymouth across the centuries, of the trials of and tribulations there endured by our courageous forefathers, is an inspiration to us all. Today by the magic of radio I am privileged to stand at the ancient fireside and tell the story of how the descendants of Mayflower passengers spread out into the state of Ohio. It is a story that is easy to tell because the early history of what is now the state of Ohio was marked by two great development enterprises. The first of these was conducted by the Ohio Company, whose activities have made a historic shrine of the little city of Mariette, first capital of the Northwest Territory. The second was by the Connecticut Land Company, on whose property was founded the beginnings of the great industrial empire of the northern part of the state. Leaders in the Ohio Company development, largely men who had been officers in the war of the revolution, came from all parts of the East and lines of direct connection with the Mayflower cannot be taken for granted. Although the fact that one of the boats on which the goods of the first expedition were floated down the Ohio River to Marietta was called the Mayflower, is in of itself quite definite indication that Ohio Company pioneers were of pilgrim descent and were proud of it. On the other hand, the development of the Connecticut Land Company was distinctively a child of Connecticut and it might almost be said, of pilgrim parentage because Plymouth was still a young settlement when the tide of migration to which Dean Archer has referred began, and so much of this migration was into Connecticut, that it became almost a second pilgrim state. Those who remember their colonial history will recall that the grant of land given by the founders of Connecticut— to the founders of Connecticut by the English Crown conveyed title, not only to the sea coast between established northern and southern boundaries, but to all the land between those boundaries to the West indefinitely. Had that grant been sustained to this time, Connecticut today would have had both Atlantic and Pacific coastlines and would stretch the width of the country. When the Revolutionary War was won, the new federal government set about clearing up conflicting state lines and Connecticut surrendered its claim to vast regions of western territory in exchange for definite deed to thirty-thousand acres of land, known as the Western Reserve, which was promptly sold to the Connecticut Land Company for forty cents an acre. This was the land which General Moses Cleaveland and his men surveyed and on which they founded this city which bears his name. This was the land too in which countless Connecticut families, in whose breasts still burn the pioneering spirit which had led their pilgrim ancestor across unknown waters to the refuge of Plymouth harbor, sought out new homes for themselves. Others came too, but I think it may be said without fear of contradiction that the Western Reserve has a pilgrim heritage which has vastly influenced its character. If we were to study the history of the state of Ohio exclusively in the light of its Mayflower descendants, we would find that for a century and a half pilgrim pioneers and their descendants have drawn through ties of blood or friendship, others of the same descent, who have brought with them the same sturdy spirit of self-reliance, the devotion to education, and the instance on the right of self-government which was characteristic of our Mayflower ancestors and are characteristic of Ohio. The story of Ohio is the story of the nation. It is a story of the pioneer unafraid, the story of dauntless men and women to whom the dangers and privations of the wilderness were but a small price to pay for the great boon of freedom and the right of self-government. Not all of these men and women had pilgrim blood, but they did fallow pilgrim ideals. When all is said and done it must be admitted by any student of our history that when French and Spaniards, Dutch, and adventuring English were coming to this country for land, or furs (clears throat), or in the hope of trade, conquest, or treasure, the pilgrims of the Mayflower were the first to come here for the sole purpose of making a permanent home, where they could live their own lives, worship their god in their own way and govern themselves. Their principles were their priceless gift to America. It is because of those principles that we are proud to prove our kinship to them. Much more could be told of our pioneer beginnings in Ohio, but I must give place to another. The next speaker will be Dr. Lee O. Wright, elder of the Missouri Society, speaking to you from the city of St. Louis.

Dr. Lee O. Wright: The Mayflower Society of the state of Missouri speaking in its own behalf and in behalf of the great western portion of the United States, which by the early hour of this broadcast alone prevents from speaking on the network, sends loving greetings to the ancestral home on the Plymouth hillside. How did the restless feet of western marching pioneers of Mayflower lineage come to Missouri and beyond to the western plains, to the Rockies, and to the Golden Gate? The story is the saga of America. Missouri was the great gateway to the West and more pioneers migrated over its soil in finding their western home than any other state west of the Mississippi. In the span of our allotted moments it is impossible to follow completely the trends of migration in regards to motives and locations, but a few specific examples taken from the Missouri Society will be sufficient and typical. Some migrations were direct from Massachusetts, and some, following the progressive frontier, have had two or more resident homesteads before reaching the West. A direct line of the Alden family was lured to the fertile soil of Illinois, and from there a family of seven sons, doctors and lawyers, have scattered to states westward to California. A member of the Richard Warren family settled in the same state four generations ago and his son established a flourishing mercantile system in the lead belt of Missouri before the civil war. The spirit of Elder Brewster was maintained by one of his descendants who crossed the Rocky Mountains in 1836 to begin a forty year work as a missionary to the Indians in Oregon and Idaho. As early as 1838, a member of the William Bradford family laid claim to one-thousand acres in the Arcadia Valley of Missouri, to be later divided among his nine children. A graduate of Yale from the Stephen Hopkins family came to establish a mid-western college. The Isaac Allerton family is now represented by a member who has become prominent in the education of the blind of our state, by his own necessity.
[Break in recording]— that the glory and greatness of all our descendants is in our hands, preserve in all their purity refine if possible from all their alloy, those virtues which we this day commemorate as the ornament of our forefathers. Let us invite in heart and supplication to the founder of nations, the builder of worlds, that the dearest hopes of the human race may not be extinguished in disappointment and that the last may prove the noblest empire of time.

(Chorus sings)

HOST: You have been listening for the past half hour to a special Thanksgiving Day program given under the auspices of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, a nationwide organization of men and women who have proved their lines of ancestry back to passengers who landed at Plymouth in 1620. The first speaker on the program was Dean Gleason L. Archer of Suffolk Law School, counsellor general of the society and chairman of its radio committee. Dean Archer spoke from Boston. The choral numbers from the Boston studio were rendered by the choir of the Zion Lutheran Church. Colonel Francis Russell Stoddard was the speaker from New York City. Frederick K. Van Fleet talked from Cleveland, Ohio and the concluding speaker, Reverend Dr. Lee O. Wright of St. Louis, Missouri. “America the Beautiful” was sung by the choir of the Giddings Presbyterian Church out of St. Louis.





“Radio broadcast about the Pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts sponsored the Society of Mayflower Descendents on WAAB featuring Gleason Leonard Archer (audio recording and transcript),” Moakley Archive & Institute, accessed March 4, 2024,

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