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The Pilgrim Fathers

The story of the Mayflower and the small band of religious dissidents who boarded her in the hope of finding freedom in the New World must be one of the best-known tales in history.

Determined to win the right to worship according to their own consciences, 101 men, women and children set out from Plymouth, England on a perilous journey across the Atlantic Ocean. Their intended destination was the British colony of Virginia but the Mayflower was blown around 500 miles off course and they finally took shelter in a natural harbour at what later became Provincetown, Massachusetts.

After exploring the area, the travellers disembarked near the head of Cape Cod on December 21, 1620 but arguments had broken out between them over how the colony they intended to found should be governed. This led to the formulation of a binding agreement known as the Mayflower Compact which was effectively the first constitution to be written in America.

Now a unified group, the passengers of the Mayflower established Plymouth Colony, the first permanent settlement in New England. Originally known as the Forefathers, these pioneers were later called Pilgrims, a term which was often used by Puritans and Nonconformists in describing themselves.

Copyright Jan Collie 2002
Published on Britannia by permission of the author.
All rights reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission of this publication may be made without written permission.