Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Founding of Plymouth Colony

In November 1620, the first Puritans to emigrate to America were a group of separatists known as the Pilgrims. They had already feld to the Netherlands in 1608, but they eventually came to believe that the Dutch were corrupt. A decade later, fearing that their children were being drawn into the culture, they decided to emigrate to the Virginia Colony (which is MUCH larger than the state we know today). The expedition was financed by a group of investors who hoped to establish a base for profitable trade. In September 1620, the Mayflower, carrying 150 settlers and crew, embarked on its journey to Virginia. However, the ship was blown off course and landed hundreds of miles north on Cape Cod. The 102 people who survived the journey established the colony of Plymouth. Before landing, the Pilgrim leaders drew up the Mayflower Compact--the first written frame of government in what is now the United States. William Bradford and Edward Winslow, two of the colony's leaders, published an account of their adventures aboard the ship and in the New World titled Mourt's Relation in 1622.

1 comment:

  1. Very informative piece. I'd probably add that their position in Dutch society was growing uncomfortable due to frictions between the Dutch and English in the late 1610s. The nations were more or less at war in 1618 and 1619, which may have made the Separatist position (as incompletely acculturated Englishmen) kind of awkward.

    If you're interested in a readable and surprising cultural history of Plimoth (suitable for an advanced high school audience), try *The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love, and Death in the Plymouth Colony.* One of the authors, James Deetz, taught at UVa and was the founding father of historical anthropology in the US. He was unquestionably the foremost authority on all things Plimoth Plantation and did a lot to humanize the historical understanding of the earliest generation of New England's European immigrants. (He died in 2000.) His co-author, Patricia Deetz, is a cultural historian.


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