Origins of the Plymouth Colony (09:14)
Pilgrims fled from England to Holland, and from Holland to the New World. They took their chances crossing the Atlantic though they stood little chance of success. Despite setbacks, the Pilgrims stand as national icons.
Recording New England's Beginnings (03:44)
The governor of the Plymouth colony, William Bradford, is responsible for the modern status of the Pilgrims. For 20 years, he recorded the settlement’s history, which would serve as the definitive text on the subject. Bradford entrusted the journal to his sons.
Bradford: Childhood and Faith (04:25)
Most Pilgrims originated from the English town of Scrooby, a town marked by Protestant/Catholic divisions. Bed-ridden for months, 12-year-old Bradford often read the Bible, becoming convinced the Church of England was corrupt.
Religious Persecution (07:14)
Young Bradford listened to John Robinson and Richard Clyfton preach the idea that separation from the Anglican Church was required for true Christian fellowship and growth. King James I used the Act Against Puritans to persecute those who attended private religious gatherings.
Flight to Holland (02:24)
A fine leveled against William Brewster convinced the Scrooby Congregation to leave England and they decided to seek refuge in the Netherlands. They snuck out of the country, facing betrayal and imprisonment along the way.
Freedom and Strife in Holland (06:19)
The Scrooby refugees settled in Leiden, working in textile factories and worshiping together. Dutch custom inspired the separation of church and state. The group decide to leave over fears their children were losing their English identity and of the Holy Roman Empire’s collapse.
Preparing for the New World (07:48)
In 1620, the Scrooby Congregation received funding from London broker Thomas Weston; he required they allow non-Separatists to accompany them. Weston’s lack of communication resulted in the group's departure in autumn aboard the Speedwell. On September 6th, they set sail aboard the Mayflower.
Transatlantic Travel to America (09:50)
The Mayflower’s progress was slow, and sickness killed two passengers. In November, the ship arrived 200 miles north of the Hudson, but Captain Christopher Jones was forced to anchor near Cape Cod. Tensions between the Pilgrims and strangers were settled when Brewster drafted a contract binding the groups together.
New England's Deadly Epidemic (07:32)
The first landing party found no beasts or signs of human life. Prior to the arrival of the Mayflower, the land was Wampanoag territory, but plague killed as much as 90% of the population. The Pilgrims believed the lands were God’s providence that had been set aside for them.
Encountering Indigenous Peoples (07:56)
During an expedition around Cape Cod, the Pilgrims found signs of life, food, and the grave of a European before being attacked by native warriors. They decided to settle in the abandoned village of Patuxet. Upon returning to the Mayflower, Bradford learns about the death of his wife.
First Winter in America (11:33)
The Pilgrims were ill-prepared and winter weather killed half of them. So many settlers suffered from disease that there were not enough living to tend the sick or bury the dead; the Mayflower became a hospital. A debate exists as to what was done with the dying.
Meeting the Wampanoag (03:15)
In March 1621, Samoset approached the colony and informed them of the history of Patuxet. He later returned with Massasoit to establish an alliance of mutual protection. Tisquantum served as the treaty’s interpreter and remained behind to aid with spring planting.
Departure and the First Thanksgiving (05:52)
In 1621, Captain Christopher Jones and the Mayflower returned to England. With Tisquantum’s help, the Pilgrims planted corn, squash, and beans, and shared in a meal with Massasoit and his tribesmen. Governor John Carver dies and Bradford is elected governor.
Financial Pressures and Rival Colonies (11:13)
Thomas Weston chastised the colony for returning the Mayflower without goods and sent ships to found a trading post north of Plymouth. As the rival colony collapsed, the Pilgrims learned Weston’s ship was plundered and the Massachusetts natives had plans to eliminate the trading post and the colony. Bradford and Myles Standish launch a preemptive strike against the tribe.
Plymouth Profits and European Immigrants (09:34)
Underlying ideological issues with Separatism contributed to division in the community. In 1626, the Pilgrims learned John Robinson died and the Merchant Adventurers filed for bankruptcy. An increased demand for beaver pelts demonstrated the viability of the Plymouth business model, leading to an influx of Puritan settlers in New England.
End of the Separatist Dream (08:36)
The lack of an effective pastor and the increased need for agricultural goods led to the slow dissolution of the community. Many of the Plymouth founding members left or died. Bradford began writing “Of Plymouth Plantation” and learning Hebrew.
Plymouth and Pilgrim Legacies (07:54)
Within two decades of Bradford’s death, New England was occupied by over 70,000 English settlers. Less than 20,000 Native Americans remained, spurring Metacomet to lead attacks against colonial towns. Bradford’s manuscript disappeared during the Revolutionary War and was rediscovered in the Bishop of London's library.
The Pilgrims: Credits (02:45)
The Pilgrims: Credits
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