1882 Painting by William Halsall, Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor. Maintained at Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts. Image online, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
... it was thought good
there should be an association and agreement,
that we should combine together in one body,
and to submit to such government and governors
as we should
by common consent
agree to make and choose ...
They meant to land in Virginia, but their ship brought them to Cape Cod. It wasn’t the first time this group of people, seeking religious freedom, had ended up in the wrong place.
In 1608, English Protestants who disagreed with the Church of England were persecuted - as were Catholics. A group of protestant separatists, thinking they would have greater opportunity to freely practice their religion in The Netherlands
, left England for Amsterdam
Within a year, that group of separatists
- much later known as "The Pilgrims" - objected to aspects of life in their new city. With their families, they moved to Leiden
(Leyden), a Dutch town north of The Hague.
By 1620, it was illegal for anyone in The Netherlands to hold religious meetings in their homes. Leiden, the Pilgrims’ adopted city, was no exception. Twelve years after they left England, the Pilgrims realized they would have to leave Europe altogether in order to practice their beliefs unhindered.
On a ship called the Mayflower
, around 102 people set sail for a new life in the “new world.” Their last port
of call, before
crossing the Atlantic, was Plymouth, England.
What events led this group of early 17th century people to undertake such a risk-filled, dangerous trip to an unknown world?