Early American History
Encounters in the Americas
New Vocabulary
Cape Cod
Church of England
Mayflower Compact
New England
Key Concepts
The Founding of Plymouth Colony
Plymouth Colony, 1620
Virginia Company
William Bradford
In September, 1620 a group of 101 colonists left England for the Virginia
Colony.They had agreed to work for the Virginia Company. The
company paid for the cost of the voyage. The colonists agreed to repay the
Virginia Company by sending back to England furs, fish, and lumber.

About half of those on board were Separatists. They had separated from
the King's Church, the Church of England. In England, those who did not
belong to the King's Church were often put in jail. The Separatists had
decided to come to America so they could safely worship as Separatists.
Eventually, the Separatists who came on the Mayflower were known as
Pilgrims. A pilgrim is a person who makes a journey for religious reasons.
The Separatists called those who were not part of their church "Strangers."

The Mayflower was blown off course by storms and did not land in at the Virginia colony. Instead it reached the shores of what is today known as Cape Cod, Massachusetts. On December 21, 1620, the Pilgrims began a new colony in what is today known as the Town of Plymouth.

Since the Pilgrims were starting a new colony away from the Virginia Colony, they needed to agree on how to make rules or laws. The 41 men wrote and signed a compact or agreement on board the ship. The agreement became known as the Mayflower Compact. It is the first example of self-government by colonists in the Americas.

The first winter was very hard for the Pilgrims. The weather was cold and there was not enough food. About half of the settlers died. Help came in the spring. An Indian named Samoset walked into their village and said, "Welcome, Englishmen." Samoset was a member of the Wampanoag tribe. He had learned English from sailors who had come to fish along the Cape Cod coast.

Several days later, Samoset returned with another Indian named Squanto. Squanto spoke better English than Samoset. Years earlier, Squanto had
been kidnapped by a group of European fishermen. He was sold as a slave in Spain. He was able to escape and went to England where he learned English. After several years, he was able to return to his Wampanoag land on Cape Cod.

Squanto lived with the Pilgrims and became their interpreter. He showed them how to survive in the New England climate using the Indian ways.
He showed them where to fish and how to plant squash, pumpkins, and corn. In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims had their first harvest. William Bradford was the Governor of the Colony. He decided the colony should have a celebration
to mark their first harvest. The Pilgrims invited the Wampanoag Indians to
their Thanksgiving. The celebration lasted three days. They feasted on
turkeys, fish, clams, oysters, and lobsters.

The Pilgrims lived in peace with the Wampanoag for many years. The Chief
of the Wampanoag was Massasoit. However in time, other Englishmen would come to settle in Massachusetts. Some of these new settlers would not be as respectful of the Indian ways. Conflicts would happen when the new settlers begin to take more and more of the Wampanoag land.
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Additional Information
blown off course - The Pilgrims had a terrible voyage that took 66 days. The ship was overcrowded, wet, and smelled bad. There was no place to change or wash clothes. During most of the trip, they ate hard bread and dried meat that was wet and moldy. They ate onions and lemon juice to keep themselves from getting scurvy.

Mayflower Compact - During the crossing there had been conflicts between the Separatists and the Strangers. The Mayflower Compact was a set of rules. It was a plan of government for the Pilgrims to choose their leaders and to make their laws.

Separatists - Separatists were sometimes called "Saints." They wanted to separate completely from the church. They felt there was no need to have priests or bishops. They believed members of the church could speak directly to God.

Squanto - Samoset returned with 60 Indians and the Wampanoag Chief named Massasoit. One of the Indians was Squanto who spoke English well.

Strangers - Among the Strangers on board were ten indentured servants. One was a professional soldier, and one was a barrel maker or cooper. Four were orphans and had been made indentured servants until they became 21 years of age.

worship as Separatists - Some of the Separatists had lived in Scrooby, England. They moved to Holland to escape jail for practicing their religious beliefs. In Holland they had religious freedom. But the Separatists became concerned that their children were growing up more
Dutch than English.