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John Billington
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    (circa 1580-September 30, 1630)
    Born in England
    Came to Plymouth on the Mayflower
    Was not a member of the Pilgrim religious community
    Shot and killed John Newcomen
    Found guilty of murder and hanged
    First murder and first execution in the American colonies
    He was involved in an attempted mutiny on the Mayflower.
    His son came alarmingly close to blowing up the ship when he fired a musket next to an open barrel of gunpowder.
    He was responsible for the 'first offense' after landing, when he challenged the captain's authority using foul language.
    He was implicated in a plot to overthrow the colony's government
    William Bradford said, 'He is a knave, and so will live and die.'
    He was one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact.
    The evidence against him was circumstantial.
    His defenders have claimed that Governor Bradford, who had long disliked him, used his influence to ensure a conviction.
    Since he came over on the Mayflower, there are plenty of Americans proud to claim him as an ancestor. (While presumably glossing over just what he did after getting off the ship.)
    One of his descendants was President James A. Garfield.

Credit: C. Fishel

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