In September of 1620 some 100 people ,mostly seeking religious freedom from the church of England set sail seeking the colony of Virginia. They traveled over on a ship known as the Mayflower where they were blown off their course. After a long voyage of 65 days, the refugees landed in cape- cod, present day Massachusetts. The settlers mostly lived on the Mayflower, while they built their new living quarters. A scouting party was later sent out and the new settlers landed in Plymouth Harbor that December.
These settlers began to establish the first pure Christian colony of New England. The start of the Plymouth colony began. These settlers are known as Pilgrims. The Pilgrims would now face a dreadful first winter where nearly half of them died due to poor nutrition and housing that faltered in the harsh weather. Many of the pilgrims returned home and the pilgrims that stayed began establishing farms and a fur trade. To establish ground rules for governing they signed an agreement known as the Mayflower Compact.
The Mayflower Compact was an agreement that bounded each member of the Separatist group in Plymouth to obey majority rule to promise to defend one another from potential eviction; set a precedent for democratic rule in Massachusetts (“The Pilgrims”, 1996-3013). The Wampanoag people were the native inhabitants that lived around the area of the Plymouth Colony for some 10,000 years before the Europeans arrived. The Wampanoag people needed help fending off their rivals in the interior. If the Pilgrims would agree to ally with the Wampanoag’s then they could stay.
This was the choice given to them by the Wampanoag leader. Soon after the settlement, the Pilgrims came into contact with Squanto a English speaking native from the Pawtuxet tribe. Squanto was later seized by the men of John Smith for the purpose of enslavement. Squanto later managed to escape to find that his tribe had come to parish due to plague. He latter befriended the pilgrims and taught them to plant corn which had become their main crop. He also taught them where to fish and hunt beaver.
In the fall of 1621, the pilgrims shared a harvest feast with the Pokanokets tribe, which is the basis for today’s Thanksgiving Holiday (“The Pilgrims”, 1996-3013). The settlers were on the right course for permanent residency. In 1623, the pilgrims divided the land and only rewarded those who were willing to work hard enough. Due to all the hard work they were able to pay their debt back to the Virginia Company who helped finance the Mayflower and their travels to the new world. They also had the help of William Bradford who was one of the new settlers who set up a stable governmental self-rule.
William Bradford ruled with a strong level hand and consulted numerous colonists before making decisions. After attempting to turn the pilgrims against the Pokanoket tribe and trying to increase his power Squanto died. Other tribes were not quite disposed of the pilgrims and their relationship with Massasoit and the Pokanoket tribe. In 1629, English Puritans sought to formalize Massachusetts as a royal colony do to the progression of the Plymouth colony. As the Pilgrims began occupying more land, relations with the Native American tribes began deteriorating.
The natives were very unhappy that the settlers were beginning to occupy more and more due to them growing. Thus the King Phillip war began, which would tear apart New England. Phillip was the son of Massasoit and the chief of the Pokanoket tribe. Over 5,000 in habitants of New England were left dead and a third of them were natives. Many woman and men decided to follow the Pilgrims voyage to the new world due to the policies of religious belief by the King. Kind James1 and his successor eventually forced more and more people to follow behind the pilgrims in hopes of finding their religious haven.
Another 1,000 puritan refugees under the guidance of John Winthrop came to establish todays Boston in Massachusetts. Between the time period of 1630 and 1640 another 25,000 refugees would follow to come to their religious safe haven. Eventually the pilgrims of Plymouth failed to achieve lasting economic success. Fighting the king Phillips war was rather costly and damaged the already struggling economy of Plymouth. In 1692, King James II appointed a governor to rule over New England and Plymouth was merged into a larger entity of Massachusetts (“The Pilgrims”, 1996-3013).