(The Mayflower in Plymouth harbour by William Halsall, 1882)
On this day in 1620, William Bradford and the Mayflower Pilgirms landed at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Mayflower transported the first English Pilgrims to America, with 102 passengers. When the Pilgrims disembarked, they founded the Plymouth Colony. The Plymouth Colony, along with Jamestown, Virginia, was one of the earliest successful colonies to be founded by the English in North America.
The Colony succeeded due to the help of Squanto, a Native American of the Patuxet people, and it was this co-operation between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans which inspires the Thanksgiving tradition in America. However, the Plymouth Colony did not last long, and was merged with the Massachusetts Bay Colony and others in 1691 to form the Province of Massachusetts Bay.
The Plymouth Colony has a huge symbolic role in American history. Whilst the settlers in Jamestown were entrepreneurs, the Plymouth citizens were fleeing religious persecution and searching for a place where they could worship freely. They chose to settle in America, which has become known as ‘The Land of the Free’.