The h2g2 Historian: North America's First UFO Sighting

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Weird things happened in New England. Even before Stephen King lived there.

North America's First UFO Sighting

John Winthrop meets a UFO in 1639.

March 1639:

In this year one James Everell, a sober, discreet man, and two others, saw a great light in the night at Muddy River. When it stood still, it flamed up, and was about three yards square; when it ran, it was contracted into the figure of a swine: it ran as swift as an arrow towards Charlton [Charlestown], and so up and down [for] about two or three hours. They were come down in their lighter [boat] about a mile, and, when it was over, they found themselves carried quite back against the tide to the place they came from. Divers other credible persons saw the same light, after, about the same place.

Journal of John Winthrop, governor of Massachusetts

There's not a lot to say to this, other than:

  • The Puritans were, on the whole, a sober lot. That doesn't mean they didn't let their imaginations run away with them. Ever hear of the Salem Witch Trials?
  • Sober doesn't mean teetotal. Scrumpy may have been involved. To keep out the chill on the Muddy River, of course.
  • Substances which are now controlled weren't, back then. In fact, they got into the food. What the Alice B Toklas brownie was to the 1960s, rye bread was to Salem Village. (Remember the Witch Trials?)
  • We're not saying they didn't see a UFO. A shapeshifting one, even, with a sense of humour and a fondness for imitating Porky Pig. We're just saying…
  • Why would we believe a Yankee governor if we didn't believe a Southern one? Jimmy Carter saw one, too.

So, is the truth out there? Some say perhaps. Others say, 'Yea, verily.'

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