The Pilgrims Come to America
By Susan Steffen-Kraft
The ship they took passage on was wooden so they had to eat their food cold in case of a fire. There were 44 Saints and 66 Strangers as they were called by the Saints, and some soon became sick because of the damp and cold. There were even disagreements between the Saints and Strangers which on a ship and a hard journey could easily happen. The "Strangers" were as a rule "tradesmen, craftsmen, skilled workers, laborers and Indentured servants" and there were also several young orphans. The "Saints" were a less than tolerant community; they did not welcome other groups or different points of view. Many of the differences between the two groups called "Saints" and "Strangers" were the levels of "education, religion, social structure, political views, aspirations and beliefs". After land was sighted the two groups came together and formed an agreement called the Mayflower Compact. This brought them closer and led them to call the whole group, Pilgrims.
They were going to a totally New World of which they had no knowledge
They did not know the area or the natural resources available
They did not know what the extremes of the climate might be like
They did not know whether the indigenous population would prove friendly
In order to survive they had to build adequate shelters
They had to be able to locate sources of food and fresh water
They had to provide protection for the women and children
Some were better equipped to survive than others
They were cut off from everyone and everything they had ever known - they only had each other
They were cut off from any form of government or law
If they did not work as a group the wilderness could claim their lives so they come to an agreement that is ..."for our better ordering and preservation ... "The Mayflower Compact was a short document - the shorter the document the smaller the disagreements. The content of the Mayflower Compact did not contain any contentious elements. It was of utmost importance that everyone who signed the Mayflower Compact would abide by it once they had reached the settlement.
Fact 1: The significance of the Mayflower Compact is illustrated as it was based on the concept of majority rule
Fact 2: The significance of the Mayflower Compact is illustrated as it was the first known document that provided self-government in America
Fact 3: The significance of the Mayflower Compact is illustrated as it was the first democratic government to be established in the colonies - The colonists agreed to choose their leaders and make their own laws which they agreed to follow
Fact 4: The significance of the Mayflower Compact is illustrated because it stated that the adult males, not including servants, who settled at Plymouth, would have the right to vote on issues
Fact 5: The significance of the Mayflower Compact is illustrated by its democratic concept of law made by and for the people
Fact 6: The significance of the Mayflower Compact is illustrated as it expressed mutual regard for one another as equals in the sight of God
Fact 7: The significance of the Mayflower Compact is because it is often cited as one of the foundations of the US Constitution setting a precedent as the foundational document for the Plymouth Colony
Our founding fathers used the knowledge of this document to write the Constitution.
On March 16, 1621 an important event took place as an Indian brave walked into the Plymouth settlement; his name was Squanto and he spoke English which helped very much in communication. Without this Indian brave, the rest of the Pilgrims would not have survived the following winter but he taught them how to tap the maple trees for sap and showed them which plants were poisonous and which ones had medicinal powers. In addition he also taught them how to plant the Indian corn which was done by heaping the earth into low mounds with several seeds and fish in each mound. The decaying fish fertilized the corn which helped them grow and flourish. He also taught them to plant other crops with the corn. This harvest was so successful that they decided to celebrate all of their bounty and success.
A day of thanks was declared and shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native Americans. Squanto and other Indians were invited to join them in the celebration and in all actuality were co-hosts. Their chief,Massasoit, and 90 braves came to the celebration which lasted for 3 days. However, this probably came in mid-October.
The 3rd year brought a spring and summer that was hot and dry with the crops dying in the fields. The governor ordered a day of fasting and prayer; soon thereafter the rain came. To celebrate that year - November 29th of that year was proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. This date is believed to be the real true beginning of the present day Thanksgiving Day.
We owe the Pilgrims much whether they were a Saint or a Stranger. So, to this I say give thanks for everything and be grateful to the Pilgrims and to the Indians that in the end helped them. To all, we owe much.