Annie's "Mayflower Day" Page
~Mayflower Day is September 16th, 2004~

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will
of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
~1 Thessalonians 5:18~

Here is what The Compton's Encyclopedia says about "The Mayflower":

'MAYFLOWER' A storm-tossed, 66-day voyage across the wintry Atlantic Ocean in 1620 carried the small, slow merchant vessel Mayflower into an honored place in American history. Crowded on board were the men, women, and children who founded Plymouth, the first permanent colony in North America settled by families. These people, now called the Pilgrims, were the first colonists who came to the New World to gain religious liberty. They were also the first to draw up a written agreement providing for "such a government and governors as we should by common consent agree to make and choose." This historic document, signed on the ship, is known as the Mayflower Compact.

The Pilgrims left England because the English king, James I, did not permit freedom of religion. Everyone was expected to belong to the official state church, the Church of England. Some groups of people objected to certain of its practices. The Puritans set out to "purify" the state church. The Separatists wanted to have a separate denomination.

Leaders among the Pilgrim Fathers had been members of a small congregation of Separatists. They had gathered to worship in secret at William Brewster's manor house in the village of Scrooby in Nottinghamshire. Spied upon, found out, and persecuted, they determined to seek a home where they could worship as they chose. They fled to Holland in 1608. In Leiden (Leyden) these farming folk founded a church and a religious community. Even with their religious freedom they did not feel at home in the Dutch industrial and commercial city. Many had a difficult struggle to earn a living in unfamiliar work. Parents worried for fear their children would grow up as Dutchmen. After long discussion they decided to go into the wilds of the New World, where they might keep their native language and customs.

Three years were spent making necessary arrangements. They obtained a patent from the Virginia Company of London to settle in the territory then called Virginia. Lacking money for supplies and expenses, they contracted with a group of merchants to finance them. In return they were to work for seven years and share their output with the merchants.

The group from Leiden sailed to England in a small ship, the Speedwell, which they planned to use for commercial fishing in America. On the Mayflower in Southampton harbor there were other English Separatists and a group of "strangers" recruited by the merchants. Twice they started for the New World only to be forced to return to England because the Speedwell was leaking. Finally they abandoned the ship. Some of its passengers stayed behind, and the rest crowded onto the Mayflower. The "strangers," including the servants, outnumbered the "saints," or Separatists, but the "saints" remained in control.

It was September 16, nearing the season of westerly gales and fall storms, when the ship finally set sail from Plymouth, England. Captain Christopher Jones was in command.

No authentic plans or dimensions of the Mayflower are known to exist. Naval architects, however, have made models based on designs of other merchant vessels of the day. The ship was a three-masted sailing vessel of 180 tons. Its length was approximately 100 feet (30 meters), and the greatest width was 26 feet (8 meters). The stern rose 27 feet (8 meters) above the water when loaded.

Two decks ran the length of the ship. The forecastle rose from the main deck in the bow. It contained quarters for the crew of 30 and the galley where the crew's food was prepared. At the stern the poop house and poop deck sat atop the half deck. Here were two fair-size cabins that were normally used as quarters for the ship's officers.

Historians have wondered how more than 100 passengers found sleeping space. One writer guessed that, if the officers gave up most of their cabin space, perhaps 54 parents and children could sleep in tiers of double bunks there. The single men and boys could bed down on pallets or hammocks between decks. Their goods and supplies were stored in the hold.

Nobody had privacy. There were no sanitary facilities, and fresh water was too scarce to use for washing. Seasickness plagued the travelers. The stench in the crowded quarters must have been offensive.

Cold food was the chief fare of the passengers--hard biscuits, cheese, and salted beef or fish. An occasional hot dish could be cooked over an open charcoal fire in a box of sand. Without fresh provisions many passengers contracted scurvy in the 66-day voyage. They suffered from exposure to bitter winds and icy waters. When storms tossed the ship, the caulking worked out of the upper seams, letting in the freezing spray. Once the main beam buckled, and repairs had to be made in midocean.

"After longe beating at sea," wrote William Bradford, later governor of Plymouth, "they fell with that land which is called Cape Cod; the which being made and certainly known to be it, they were not a little joyfull." They had reached North America, having suffered only the loss of one servant and one sailor on the 66-day voyage. One infant was born on the ship as it lay anchored at Cape Cod.

Their joy soon turned to fear, for the Mayflower met perhaps her greatest danger on this day, November 19. When Captain Jones headed southward off the eastern coast of the cape, the vessel was caught in the scarcely submerged sandbars southeast of present-day Chatham. For several hours it appeared that the ship was in danger of running aground and being wrecked. Then a change in the wind enabled the captain to sail northward to the head of the cape, finally mooring in Provincetown Harbor on Saturday, November 21.

The Pilgrims had reached land at a point considerably north of Virginia, where their patent called for settlement. Thus they were outside the jurisdiction of the London company. Some form of government was needed since a few of the "strangers" were threatening to "use their own libertie" on landing. Before the ship anchored they drew up the Mayflower Compact, a type of church covenant adapted for civil purposes. All men known to be of age signed it. It read:

In ye name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwriten, the loyall subjects of our dread soveraigne Lord, King James, by ye grace of God, of Great Britaine, Franc & Ireland, king, Defender of faith, etc. Haveing undertaken for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enacte, constitute, and frame such just & equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the generall good of the colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

The Compact was one of the earliest plans for self-government by European colonists in America.

Rest and worship kept the Pilgrims aboard ship through Sunday. On Monday the women were rowed to the snowy shore to wash two months' accumulation of soiled clothes. The men began repairing their shallop, or open boat. This they used in a month's exploration of the area to find the best site for settlement. It was December 21 when they finally landed at their chosen spot, Plymouth. The ship remained with the colony through the winter. It set sail for England on April 5, 1621, and reached home a month later. Little is known of the ship's later history. In 1957 a replica of the ship--named Mayflower II --sailed from Plymouth, England, to Massachusetts in an attempt to duplicate the original trip. The second journey took 53 days.

Important & Related Dates:
Nov. 21, 1620--Signing of the Mayflower Compact by the Pilgrims while en route to North America aboard the Mayflower. The document's ideas of self-government based on majority rule were used by other colonies and later embodied in the United States Constitution.
December 21st -- 21. Forefathers' Day. New England states. The Mayflower reached Plymouth, 1620.

Mayflower Related Links:
Plimoth on the Web take a Virtual Tour while you are there
Articles from the Plimoth Museum Library:
Mayflower Crossing   1620 & Mayflower II & Interesting Facts about the Pilgrims, the Wampanoag, and Plymouth. & Pilgrim Trivia & Mayflower (1620) & MAYFLOWER CREW
September 16 - September special days and holidays.
Mayflower Day

Information Below is quoted from: The World Book, Comptons and Encarta

What is The Mayflower?

Mayflower was the ship that carried the first Pilgrims to America, in 1620. It was built around 1610 and probably had three masts and two decks. It probably measured about 90 feet (27 meters) long and weighed about 180 short tons (163 metric tons). Its master, Christopher Jones, was a quarter-owner.

The Mayflower left England on Aug. 15, 1620 (August 5 according to the calendar then in use) with another ship, the Speedwell. After turning back twice because of leaks on the Speedwell, the Mayflower sailed alone from Plymouth on September 16 (September 6), with 102 passengers. The ship reached Cape Cod on November 21 (November 11), off what is now Provincetown Harbor. It reached the present site of Plymouth, Mass., on December 26 (December 16), five days after a small party explored the site.

The Mayflower left America on April 15, 1621 (April 5, 1621). Historians are not certain what happened to the ship after it returned to England. Some believe it was dismantled after Jones died in 1622, although a ship called the Mayflower made trips to America after that. Others believe that William Russell bought the Mayflower for salvage, and used its hull as a barn roof. The barn stands in Jordans, a village outside London.

The Mayflower II, built the way the original Mayflower is thought to have looked, is kept in Plymouth, Mass. In 1957, it crossed the Atlantic in 54 days. The Britons who built the replica gave it to the American people as a symbol of friendship.

Learn about the Pilgrims
The Pilgrims: In the 1500's, some members of the Church of England, known as Puritans,favored reforms to "purify" the church. By the late 1500's, some Puritan congregations had broken away from the church entirely, and had become known as Separatists. Some Separatists sought religious freedom in Holland, then decided to begin a new life in America.

The early English settlers of New England became known as the Pilgrims. On Sept. 16, 1620, 41 Separatists and 61 other people from England became the first group of Pilgrims to journey to America. These Pilgrims sailed from Plymouth, England, in the Mayflower. That November, the Mayflower anchored in what is now Provincetown harbor. Before leaving the ship, the Pilgrims drew up a plan of self-government, which they called the Mayflower Compact. In December, they sailed across Cape Cod Bay and settled in Plymouth.

The Pilgrims suffered great hardships during their first winter in America. They had little food other than the game they could hunt. Their houses were crude bark shelters. About half the settlers died during the winter of 1620-1621. Early in 1621, the Pilgrims became friendly with some Indians. The Indians taught them how to plant corn and beans. By the time cold weather came again, the settlers were living more comfortably. They had enough food to last the winter. The Pilgrims celebrated the first New England Thanksgiving in 1621.

More settlers came to the Plymouth Colony during the years that followed. Within 20 years after the Pilgrims landed, Plymouth Colony had eight towns and about 2,500 people.

The Plymouth Colony:
Plymouth Colony, pronounced PLIHM uhth, was the second permanent English settlement in America. The colonists who settled there became known as Pilgrims because of their wanderings in search of religious freedom. In 1620, they established their colony on the rocky western shore of Cape Cod Bay in southeastern Massachusetts. This region had been called Plimouth on John Smith's map of New England, drawn in 1614. The Pilgrims established the Congregational Church in America. Plymouth Colony remained independent until 1691, when it became part of Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Plymouth Colony and the Pilgrims have become for all Americans a lesson of how a people with little more than courage, perseverance, and hard work could build themselves a home in a hostile world. Their bravery set an example for future generations of Americans.

Many tourists visit modern Plymouth with its memorials to the Pilgrim forefathers. Just south of town there is a model of the original Pilgrim village. Plimoth Plantation, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the Pilgrim heritage, also maintains a replica of the first Pilgrim house and of the Mayflower.

How was The Plymouth Colony Founded?
Most of the Pilgrims were Separatists (Puritans who had separated from the Church of England). The government of England arrested and tried the Separatists because of their nonconformity (refusal to belong to the Church of England). In 1608, a group of Separatists moved to the Netherlands. After a few years, some of them became dissatisfied, and felt that things would be better in a new land. They secured financial backing in London, and, in 1620, left the Netherlands in a small ship called the Speedwell. The ship stopped in England, and the expedition was joined by other English people who hoped to better their lives. The group left England in the Speedwell and a larger ship, the Mayflower. The Speedwell proved unseaworthy, and the fleet returned to England twice. Finally, in September 1620, the Mayflower sailed alone from Plymouth, England. It carried 102 passengers, including women and children.

A rough passage of 65 days brought the Mayflower to Cape Cod on November 20 (November 10, according to the calendar then in use). The Pilgrims had promised to settle somewhere within the limits of the original grant of the Virginia Company of Plymouth. But errors in navigation led them to the New England region. Adverse winds and the shoals off Cape Cod forced the Mayflower to stay north. The ship anchored in Provincetown harbor inside the tip of Cape Cod on November 21.

The Pilgrim leaders were uncertain of their legal position because they were in the area without authority. They also knew they would need discipline among themselves. To solve these problems, 41 men aboard the Mayflower met and signed the Mayflower Compact, the first agreement for self-government in America. The Pilgrims also elected John Carver as their governor.

The landing at Plymouth. The sea-weary Pilgrims were anxious to learn more about the country. For almost a month, several small groups explored the coast around Cape Cod Bay while the rest remained aboard. One of the groups had to take refuge on an island in Plymouth harbor during a blinding snowstorm. On Dec. 21, 1620, this group landed at Plymouth. There they found a stream with clear water, some cleared land, and a high hill that could be fortified. This site was once an Indian village, but smallpox had wiped out all the Indians in 1617. The Pilgrims decided that this would be their new home. The Mayflower sailed across Cape Cod Bay and anchored in Plymouth harbor on December 26.

The first year was a difficult one for the Pilgrims. Poor and inadequate food, strenuous work, and changeable weather made the settlers susceptible to sickness. The colony lost about half its members that first winter.

But help came one spring morning, when an Indian walked into the little village and introduced himself to the startled people as Samoset. He later returned with Squanto. They introduced the Pilgrims to Massasoit, the sachem (chief) of the Wampanoag tribe that controlled all southeastern Massachusetts. Carver and the chief exchanged gifts and arranged a treaty of peace. Soon afterward, the Mayflower sailed for England, leaving the Pilgrims. Then Carver died, and William Bradford became governor of the colony.

The Pilgrims, under Squanto's direction, caught alewives (a fish in the herring family) and used them as fertilizer in planting corn, pumpkins, and beans. They hunted and fished for food. The harvest that year led Governor Bradford to declare a celebration. Sometime in the autumn of 1621, the Pilgrims invited their Indian friends to join them in a three-day festival that we now call the first New England Thanksgiving. The menu included corn bread, duck, eel, goose, wild leeks, shellfish, venison, watercress, and wine.

Life in Plymouth Colony
The Pilgrims received legal rights to settle at Plymouth under a patent granted by the Council for New England in 1621. Governor Bradford received a new patent, the Warwick Patent, in 1630. It granted him all the land south of a line between Narragansett Bay and Cohasset. Under this patent, Bradford could have claimed ownership of the entire colony, but he shared control with the other settlers. He turned the patent over to all the freemen (voters) of the colony in 1640. A few years later, surveyors marked off an area corresponding to the present counties of Bristol, Barnstable, and Plymouth as the colony of Plymouth.

Expansion of the colony. In November 1621, the ship Fortune arrived with 35 new colonists. Other ships brought additional settlers but the population grew to only 300 settlers in 10 years. Some of the colonists decided to move from Plymouth to better lands. Some went north and established the towns of Duxbury, Marshfield, and Scituate. Others moved west to Rehoboth, or farther east on Cape Cod to settle Sandwich, Barnstable, Yarmouth, and Eastham.
Government. The men who signed the Mayflower Compact were the freemen of the colony. They, along with any newly chosen freemen, met once a year to discuss the problems of the colony. This body, called the General Court, elected the governor and his assistants, made laws, and levied taxes. In outlying towns, the freemen held town meetings to elect their own officers and settle town matters. Beginning in 1639, these towns sent representatives to the General Court at Plymouth.
Economic life. The Pilgrims organized a joint-stock company with some London merchants to finance the voyage. The partnership was to last for seven years. The Pilgrims agreed to put the results of their labor into a common fund, which would provide the necessities of life for the settlers. At the end of seven years, all the profits and property were to be divided among the financiers and the settlers. This experiment did not work out, and in 1623 the colony allowed settlers to farm individual plots. The London merchants in 1627 agreed to sell their interest in the company to the Pilgrims, who finished paying off the debt in 1648.

The Pilgrims at first expected to make a profit from fishing. But they were never very successful at this. They turned to farming for their existence and to fur trading for profit. When other Puritans settled Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1628, the Pilgrims developed a prosperous trade in corn and cattle with them. Through steady and hard work, the colony was able to live moderately well without extremes of wealth or poverty.

The honored ones. William Bradford, the second governor of Plymouth, wrote a history of the Pilgrims' adventure aboard the Mayflower.

For the Mayflower ship's passengers:

Annie's "Mayflower Passenger List" Page

What about the Indians?
Indian, American. The people now known as Indians or Native Americans were the firstpeople to live in the Americas. They had been living there for thousands of years before any Europeans arrived.

The area that would later become the Thirteen Colonies was also home to more than 500,000 Indians. The tribes in the north included the Massachusett, Pequot, and Wampanoag. Among the groups in the central part of the region were the Delaware, the Susquehannock, and the nations of the powerful Iroquois League--the Cayuga, Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, and Seneca. Farther south lived the Catawba, Cherokee, Creek, and other tribes.

The Indians of eastern North America generally lived in villages near fields where they grew corn, squash, and beans. They also hunted and fished, and gathered wild plants, nuts, and berries.

After European contact. The tribes of the Eastern Woodlands were among the first to meet European explorers and settlers. At first, the two groups had friendly relations. Squanto, a Patuxet, is said to have taught the white settlers how to plant corn and fertilize it with dead fish. Massasoit of the Wampanoag helped the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony. In 1621, the Indians and Pilgrims joined in a Thanksgiving ceremony to give thanks for a good harvest and peace. But the friendly relations did not last, and warfare soon became common. Most of the early fighting consisted of small battles between settlers and Indians. Smallpox, measles, and other European diseases killed many Indians.

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