Many people called Pilgrims who came from religious persecution in England decided to leave and form a colony. They did not agree with the changes the new king, James I, brought to the church. They left to Leiden Holland, and because they were mostly farmers, they had a hard time making a living at Leiden. They tried to get the London company to let them make a new colony but ran into several bureaucratic delays. Their goal was to inexpensively cross the Atlantic, then start a new colony.
Later, Thomas Weston helped them out, arranged for the colony which was to be called New England. There were two ships which were to be used in bringing them there, the Speedwell, and the Mayflower. The next part of the plan was to get there, and once settled down nicely, to pay back the investors. The Speedwell brought passengers from Leiden to Southampton, where they would meet the Mayflower. But just after the ships set sail in August 1620, the Speedwell had a leak. After the leak was fixed in Dartmouth, they set sail again. The Speedwell leaked again, and this time, it was thought to be deliberate. The Speedwell already cost the Pilgrims a lot of money and time but had to be abandoned. Therefore, everything on the Speedwell was put onto Mayflower, which was now PACKED, and later sighted land in November of the same year. It was already freezing, and the leaders felt that there was plenty of tension, and put in the Mayflower compact to prevent disorder after landing. They anchored off at modern day Cape Cod.
The Pilgrims set to work to establish a settlement, but nearly half of them died in the winter of 1620-1621. Only 7 out of the 19 residential structures planned were built. A new governor called John Carver was elected, and they began to have some tension with the Indians there. The military captain, Myles Standish organized men into a standing militia, which seemed very wise at the time. An Indian named Samoset walked boldly straight, guards and all, into the camp of the Pilgrims and proclaimed, "Welcome Englishmen!" in English,
Samoset knew English because of interaction with trappers to the north and spent the night in Plymouth to learn English. He got a meeting between the Indians and their chief, Massasoit of the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims. Chief Massasoit was very wary when meeting, but later became the best of Allies. Samoset knew another Indian called Squanto, who had spent time in England after being kidnapped, and who taught the Pilgrims how to farm in many new ways which worked better.
In November 1621, the Pilgrims made an anniversary of their arrival, with 53 surviving people. It was dubbed Thanksgiving. They thanked God for getting them through the first year, and the Indians joined their celebration. Thanksgiving was only declared an annual celebration in the 1800's by Abraham Lincoln. Plymouth colony had several rough years, but in 1623 were in good shape. The colony was governed by William Bradford.
I loved the story about the Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony, and thought it so interesting how these people went through so many pains for God.