The Pilgrims were Separatists who broke away from the Church of England to continue the work of the Reformation. One of the English Separatist congregations emigrated to Amsterdam in 1608 to escape religious persecution. The next year they moved to Leiden, where, enjoying full religious freedom, they remained for almost twelve years. Discouraged by economic conditions in 1617, the congregation voted to emigrate to America. A small ship, the Speedwell, carried them to Southampton, England, where they joined another group of Separatists and were to pick up a second ship. After some delays and disputes, the voyagers regrouped at Plymouth, England aboard the Mayflower.
Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims just seem to go together, but the truth is the Pilgrims never held a feast of thanksgiving. In fact, to these devoutly religious people, a day of thanksgiving would have been a day of prayer and fasting. But before you cancel the turkey, take a look at the three-day feast that the Pilgrims and Indians did hold. It was this harvest celebration that later became known as the First Thanksgiving.
The Mayflower was first recorded in 1609. In her early years she transported tar, lumber and fish. Some years later, she worked in Mediterranean wine and spice trading. In 1620, Thomas Weston hired the Mayflower and the Speedwell to undertake a voyage to the New World. The Speedwell, however, turned out to be leaky, so the Mayflower made her historic voyage alone. The Mayflower Web is a culmination of thousands of hours of research and has something for everyone: students, teachers, historians and genealogists. The author, Caleb Johnson, is a history student and genealogy buff whose ancestry includes nine Mayflower passengers.
Plymouth, the first permanent European settlement in New England, was founded by the Pilgrims on December 21, 1620. The Mayflower began its historic voyage on September 16, 1620, leaving Plymouth, England with 102 passengers. After a sixty-five-day journey, the Pilgrims anchored on November 21 at Provincetown. The settlers soon discovered Plymouth Harbor, on the western side of Cape Cod Bay, and made their historic Plymouth Rock landing on December 21.
Today Plymouth is the site of a living museum recreating the seventeenth century Pilgrim lifestyle. People in period costumes carry out typical daily tasks. Even their dialect recreates the flavor of the period. The virtual tour is created with photographs and narrative, but there is no continuity in navigation. Use your browser's back button to return to the Virtual Tour index page after each exhibit.