In 1602 Bartholomew Gosnold,who was one of the first of many enterprising English explorers, was sent to the New World to collect sassafras root, a highly prized aromatic plant of tremendous value back in England, and to attempt to colonize New England (which at that time was called Virginia.) Doubting the weather of the fog bound rocky shores of Maine, he sailed southward stopping at a sandy promontory where his sailors caught so much fish he named it “Cape Cod”. His next stop was a beautiful vine draped island he named “Martha’s Vineyard” after his daughter. Soon his ship’s hold was filled with tons of the root. The small colony of Cuttyhunk was established which was soon abandoned.
But the facts are that Bart was loading up on sassafras because it was a supposed cure for syphilis, the most evil of the “Poxe” raging through Europe. So one could say that English Massachusetts, the most Puritan of colonies, had first been settled because of a venereal disease. Makes one look at the Puritans and the Pilgrims with a slight nod and a wink. An enigma to the respectable, a delight to the sinister. Groove.