5 Facts About the Mayflower

An engraved illustration of the Pilgrim Fathers leaving England, from a Victorian book dated 1886 that is no longer in copyright

1. Four hundred years ago today, the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Harbor.

On September 6, 1620, 102 passengers -– dubbed Pilgrims by William Bradford, a passenger who would become the first governor of Plymouth Colony– began the long, hard journey to a new life in the New World.

2. They initially anchored at Provincetown Harbor on Cape Cod on November 11.

Before going ashore, 41 male passengers–heads of families, single men and three male servants–signed the famous Mayflower Compact, agreeing to submit to a government chosen by common consent and to obey all laws made for the good of the colony.  

3. Scouting groups were sent ashore.

They were collecting firewood and looking for a good place to build a settlement.

4. Around December 10, one group found a harbor they liked on the western side of Cape Cod Bay.

They returned to the Mayflower to tell the other passengers, but bad weather prevented them from landing until December 18.

5. The area they chose was previously occupied by the Wampanoag tribe.

The tribe had abandoned the village after an outbreak of European disease. That winter of 1620-1621 was brutal, as the Pilgrims struggled to build their settlement, find food and ward off sickness. By spring, 50 of the original 102 Mayflower passengers were dead. 

Source: history.com

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