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User:Oxyaena/Plymouth Colony

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The Pilgrims arrive at Plymouth, as imagined by Henry A. Bacon some 250 years later. Not pictured: fighting over the ship's remaining store of beer.
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The Plymouth Colony, founded in 1620 in what is now Massachusetts, was an early English colony in the Brave New World.


The Pilgrims left England in the first place to escape religious persecution at the hands of the Anglicans, they believed that the Church of England was still too Catholic in its practices and wanted a complete overhaul of the entire English church.[1] More will be said about their beliefs in the Puritan section of this article. The Pilgrims left England in the year of 1609 as refugees fleeing to the relatively welcoming Netherlands, the Dutch being fellow Calvinists at the time.[2] However, when they arrived they found the Netherlands to be a strange place, their hometown of Scrooby was rural, while the city of LeidenWikipedia's W.svg was a big trade center at the time. Their children began adopting Dutch customs and the Dutch language, even enrolling in the Dutch army. However, even here they were not safe from the ravages of the Anglican Church, as in 1618 English authorities came to arrest William BrewsterWikipedia's W.svg for publishing content critical of the English crown and the Anglican Church. Brewster escaped, but they realized even in the Netherlands they weren't safe, and so they endeavored to get as far away from England as humanly possible.[3]

They managed to obtain a land patent from the Plymouth CompanyWikipedia's W.svg in 1619 to settle in the New World. They declined the opportunity to settle south of Cape Cod in New NetherlandWikipedia's W.svg because of their desire to avoid Dutch influence.[4] This patent allowed them to settle at the mouth of the Hudson River. They financed their venture from a group of businessmen called the "Merchant AdventurersWikipedia's W.svg" whom saw the colony as an opportunity to make a profit, upon arriving in America the Pilgrims began to pay off their debts to the merchants in question.[3][notes 1]

Once at the colony[edit]

The First Winter[edit]

Once at the colony things got off to a rocky start, the first winter was especially terrible. At first women, children, the elderly, and the infirm had to stay on the ship because the first structure of the colony, a simple wattle and daubWikipedia's W.svg hut, was in the process of being built. Many fell to diseases such as scurvyWikipedia's W.svg as well as to the bitter cold itself. Roughly half of the colonists died at this time, and fortifications were built due to repeat skirmishes with the local Native Americans. By January enough of the settlement had been built to begin offloading provisions from the ship, which helped matters immensely.[5]

On March 16, 1621, the first formal contact with Native Americans ensued. SamosetWikipedia's W.svg, an Eastern AbenakiWikipedia's W.svg sagamoreWikipedia's W.svg who spoke some English he learned from English whalers and fishermen camping in Eastern Maine, barged into the settlement and shouted "Hello, Englishmen!" Samoset stayed the night and in good spirits asked for some beer.[6] It was here that the pilgrims learned what had happened to the previous residents of PatuxetWikipedia's W.svg, the WampanoagWikipedia's W.svg name for Plymouth Rock, they had all died of smallpox. Samoset in return agreed to arrange a meeting with MassasoitWikipedia's W.svg, the sachemWikipedia's W.svg of the local Wampanoag tribe, and they also learned about SquantoWikipedia's W.svg, or Tisquantum, who spoke good English.[3]

Massasoit and the Puritans agreed to what was essentially a mutual defense treatyWikipedia's W.svg, with both groups agreeing to not harm the other and to come to each other's defense in times of war.[3] The Mayflower finally set sail for England on April 5, 1621, after being anchored for almost five months in Plymouth HarborWikipedia's W.svg.[3]


The first Thanksgiving was actually a rather solemn ceremony dedicated to God for the colony's "good fortune" when additional colonists and supplies arrived, and it was probably celebrated sometime in July. There was most likely very little revelry and merrymaking in light of the Pilgrims' Puritan beliefs.[7] The event we typically remember as the First Thanksgiving is more properly called a "harvest festivalWikipedia's W.svg." The event was celebrated by all 53 colonists and by Massasoit and 90 of his men, featuring waterfowl, corn, and several deer brought by the Wampanoag.[8]


As mentioned before, the Pilgrims fled England to escape religious persecution, but when they arrived in the New World they proceeded to do the exact same thing here they fled from over there, leading to the minister and dissident Roger WilliamsWikipedia's W.svg to flee Plymouth and set up the colony that would eventually become Rhode Island, Williams argued for religious tolerance and was an anthropologist who recognized the Natives as equals rather than as inferior heathens to be converted or slain, even preserving some of their language for posterity, he was also an advocate of the separation of church and state and was one of the world's first abolitionists.[9]

The Puritans in New England were even more fundamentalist than their Puritan brethren in England proper, and the last vestiges of Puritanism in New England only died out in the 19th century, some two centuries after the Pilgrims first arrived at Plymouth Rock.[10]

What's up today[edit]

The lands of the former Plymouth Colony are now the counties of Barnstable, Plymouth, and Bristol in Massachusetts (Dukes County, i.e. Martha's Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands, and Nantucket, were originally part of the New Amsterdam colony that is now New York state) and parts of Providence, Newport, and Bristol counties in Rhode Island; the major municipalities in the area aside from Plymouth are Pawtucket, Attleboro, Taunton, Fall River, New Bedford, Brockton, Middleboro, and Barnstable. The region includes much of the part of Massachusetts known as the South Shore (from Boston to Cape Cod, including the town of Plymouth), Cape Cod itself, and the South Coast (from Cape Cod to Narragansett Bay, including the cities of New Bedford and Fall River).

The area is now known for having a particularly large population of people of Portuguese (on the South Coast) and Brazilian ancestry (many of the latter being recent immigrants, mainly on Cape Cod). There are also several educational institutions in the area, including Bridgewater State University, UMass-Dartmouth, and Cape Cod Community College. The area is also home to the largest salt mine in the world.

See also[edit]


  1. However, they didn't fully pay off their debts until 1648, in part due to the colony's troubled early years as well as corruption and incompetence among the colony's leaders.


  1. "Puritanism in England"
  2. Addison, Albert Christopher. The Romantic Story of the Mayflower Pilgrims And Its Place in the Life of To-day. Published 1911.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Philbrick, Nathaniel (2006). Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War. New York: Penguin Group. ISBN 0-670-03760-5. 
  4. Rothbard, Murray (1975). ""The Founding of Plymouth Colony"". Conceived in Liberty. 1. Arlington House Publishers. 
  5. Rothbard, Murray Rothbard (1975). ""The Founding of Plymouth Colony"". Conceived in Liberty. 1. Arlington House Publishers. 
  6. "Samoset Biography". 
  7. "Fast and Thanksgiving Days of Plymouth Colony"
  8. "First Thanksgiving - Primary Sources"
  9. "God, Government, and Roger Williams' Big Idea" - Smithsonian Magazine
  10. "Puritanism in New England"
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