The Plymouth, Massachusetts Colony

Section 2, Lesson 4

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The Plymouth, Massachusetts Colony
The Landing of the Pilgrims by Henry A. Bacon. This image was created circa 1877 and is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Before 1520, The Roman Catholic Church used to be “the” Christian Church of Europe.
The nave of the Durham Cathedral in Durham, England. The cathedral was founded in 1093 CE and is considered one of the finest examples of Norman architecture. This photo was taken August 13, 2010 by Oliver Bonjoch and is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Then the Protestant Reformation began by those who thought people could worship God in different ways.
This print shows Martin Luther, a German priest and university professor, burning a document stating that he was banned from the Catholic Church. Luther strongly disputed some claims by the Catholic Church, such as the belief that one’s sins would be forgiven if they gave money to the church. This image is courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Back to the English Colonies… While Virginia had the first permanent English Settlers in America…
Making Pottery at Jamestown. This image by Sidney King is courtesy of the National Park Service.
….Massachusetts is more famous for its English settlers, the Puritans and the Pilgrims.
Pilgrims Going to Church. This image by George Henry Boughton was painted in 1867. It is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Their story began in 1534 when England’s King Henry VIII wanted to break away from the Roman Catholic Church.
Henry VIII (1491-1547) was the second monarch of the House of Tudor. This portrait was created by Hans Holbein the Younger. It is located in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, United Kingdom. It is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Henry VIII had six wives (not at the same time). The Catholic Church did not want him to divorce one of his wives to marry another (Anne Boleyn), so he decided to form his own church.
These images are courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536). Henry VIII’s first wife and mother of Mary I (also known as “Bloody Mary.” This image is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn (1501-1536) was the second wife of Henry VIII and the mother of Queen Elizabeth I. This image is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Jane Seymour
Jane Seymour (1508-1537) was the third wife, and the mother of King Edward VI. This image is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Anne of Cleves
Anne of Cleves (ca. 1515-15457was the fourth wife. He was married to her for six months. This image is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Catherine Howard
Catherine Howard (1525-1542) was the fifth wife of Henry VIII. He had her beheaded . This image is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Catherine Parr
Catherine Parr (1512-1548) was the sixth wife of Henry VIII. She had four husbands. This image is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
His new church would be called the Church of England, or the Anglican Church.
Anglican Choir Music. A guest choir practices for Evensong (Evening Prayer) in York Minster, a gothic cathedral in York,England. The minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England. This image, taken February 1, 1999 by Man vyi is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
After the American Revolution, the Anglican Church in America became known as the Episcopal Church.
The first services in this building for the Prince of Peace Memorial Church in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania were condicuted in July, 1900. This Episcopal church is located on the southwest corner of the intersection of High Street and Baltimore Street. This photograph by Robert Housch was taken facing southwest at approximately 2:30 PM on Sunday, January 4, 2009.
The Anglican Church, because it was a Christian non-Catholic Church, was a Protestant Church.
Canterbury Cathedral is located in Canterbury, England. This structure was built and rebuilt from 1070 to 1834. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the leader of the Church of England/Anglican Church. This photograph was taken facing south by Hans Musil in September, 2005. It is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Some members of the Anglican Church felt that its customs and services were still too “Catholic.”
A statue of the Virgin Mary which is located above the side entrance at Westminster Abbey. The large, gothic Westminster Abbey is located in Westminster, London, England. Westminster Abbey is the traditional place of coronation and burial of English and later British kings and queens. This photograph is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
The Puritans wanted to stay in the Church of England and attempt to “purify” it of its Catholic ways from within.
This 1500s cartoon shows a Puritan minister, preaching from the Bible, being pulled from his pulpit by “enemies of God’s word.” This image is from Henry D. Traill’s Social England.
Another group, known as the Separatists, felt the Church could not be changed.
Separatists were bothered by the elaborate rituals of the Church of England. This service, held at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England circa 1618, shows King James I, seated in an elevated box in the rear, and surrounded by his family. This image by an anonymous artist is courtesy of the Society of Antiquaries in London.
The Separatists wanted to “separate” from the Church of England to worship as they chose.
“Landing of the Pilgrims” by Michele Felice Corne was painted circa 1805. While there are many historical inaccuracies, the topography of the area where the Pilgrims landed is generally correct. This image is courtesy of the White House Historical Association.
Many Separatists not only left the church, they moved to The Netherlands (Holland) to live and worship.
The Netherlands is shown in dark green. The European Union is in light green. Europe is the darker gray. The countries surrounding Europe are colored light gray. This map was created in October, 2009 by nuclearvacuum and is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
These groups of Separatists who moved for the sake of religious tolerance called themselves Pilgrims for the Pilgrimage they had made.
“The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” was painted by Jennie A Brownscombe (1850-1936) in 1914.
While they had religious freedom in Holland, they were Englishmen and didn’t want to raise their children to be Dutch.
“Winter Landscape with Skaters.” Crowds of Dutch people are depicted on the ice in a scene that stretches far into the distance. There is a considerable variety among the figures, both in clothing and in what they are doing. Some of those portrayed are having fun, while others appear to be working. This oil painting by Hendrick Avercamp (1585-1634) was produced circa 1608 and is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
They wanted to live as Englishmen, but not in England under the rules of the Anglican Church.
This panoramic view of London was painted by Nicholas Visscher circa 1616. The Thames River is in the foreground. Crossing the river near the right of the painting is London Bridge. The large structure in the left background is St. Paul’s Church. This image is courtesy of the British Museum.
Also, many of the Pilgrims were forced to do “lowly” jobs for the Dutch and it was taking them a long time to establish their own businesses. Many of them were living in poverty.
This painting shows a Dutch Lacemaker in 1662. It is titled La Dentelliere and was painted by Caspar Netscher (1639-1664) and is courtesy of
So they chose to live in America.
“Departure of the Puritans From Holland.” This painting by an unknown Dutch artist shows the Pilgrims on the dock of Leyden, The Netherlands. They are ready to board their ship, the Speedwell which was to take them to Plymouth, England before they sailed to America. This image appeared in Harpers Weekly on March 9, 1895.
The Plymouth Company, who sponsored the Pilgrims, wanted to promote fishing colonies in “Northern Virginia” which at that time meant the land between Pennsylvania and Newfoundland.
The Plymouth Company was founded because money was to be made in fishing, especially cod. This is an Atlantic Cod or Gadus Morhua. Cod could easily be preserved by salting and drying and could be taken from North America to England without spoiling or rotting. Cod was very plentiful in “Northern Virginia,” especially that part of Massachusetts now known as Cape Cod. This image is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
The Pilgrims were supposed to settle along the Hudson River, in what is now New York State, which was the northern boundary of “Virginia.”
The Hudson River is in the foreground. The Catskill Mountains are in the background. This photograph was taken by Daniel Case on September 29, 2007 near Rhinecliff, New York. This image is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
When the Pilgrims reached England to prepare to sail for America they discovered that another group would be traveling with them.
The Separatists (Pilgrims) prepared to leave England for America from Southampton, on the southern coast of Great Britain. It was a walled port city as shown in this print from the 1600s. This image is courtesy of the Radio Times Hulton Picture Library.
The Plymouth Company recruited more people to make the colony a success. These were mostly poorer, working class people who were members of the Church of England.
This image is titled Heads of Six of Hogath’s Servants. It was painted by William Hogarth circa the 1750s and is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
The Pilgrims, who called themselves “Saints,” were now outnumbered by these newcomers whom they called “Strangers.” The two groups would have an uneasy relationship as they sailed to America.
The masts on the ship Mayflower II in the fog. This photo by pundit was taken on December 25, 2007 and is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
They left England in two ships, but one, the Speedwell, kept leaking and they landed in an English port.
Dutch seascape by Verwer. The ships painted are the size of the Speedwell, the small ship in which some of the pilgrims sailed from Holland to England. It is possible that this painting is meant to show the Pilgrims aboard the Speedwell (center) when they sailed from Holland to England. However, the artist has painted it as a Dutch vessel, instead of an English vessel which the Speedwell was. This image by Abraham de Verwer (circa 1585-1650) was painted circa 1620-1640, and it is courtesy of Pilgrim Hall.
The Speedwell passengers who wanted to continue were crowded onto the other ship, the Mayflower.
“Sailing of the Pilgrims from Plymouth, England” was painted by Charles Shimmin in the 1800s. It is on display at the Woolaroc Museum in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
The Mayflower first reached Cape Cod in what is now Massachusetts.
These are the dunes at Sandy Neck Beach on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. This image by Mr. Senseless was taken in March, 2007. It is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
When they tried to go south to the Hudson River, they nearly shipwrecked in some difficult waters.
This Iillustration is from the book The Mayflower and Her Log, Complete, July 15, 1620—May 6, 1621, Chiefly from Original Sources (compiled by Azel Ames, published 1907).
They chose to go back to the Cape Cod area and settle in an area which had previously been named Plymouth, after the town that they had finally left in England.
The Mayflower was a Dutch cargo ship that weighed approximately 180 tons and had a crew of 25-30. Captain John Smith of the Jamestown Colony had explored New England after he left Jamestown, and wrote a book about his journey. He named this area Plymouth in 1614, six years before the Pilgrims arrived. The Pilgrims brought along his book as a guide. This image, titled “The Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor” was painted in 1882 by William Halsall. It is at the Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts and is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Some, especially the “Strangers,” thought that because they were outside the “Virginia” land that Virginia’s laws now did not apply to them. So to govern themselves…
Between 1605 and 1608 the French explorer, Samuel de Champlain explored and mapped what is now the New England coast. He drew this map of Plymouth Harbor, which he named Port Saint Louis. The Native America/Indian village shown here is probably the home to Squanto’s Patuxet tribe. This map was included in Champlains’ Voyages. This map is courtesy of the National Park Service.
…the “Saints” and the “Strangers” agreed to form a political body to write laws “for the General good of the Colony.”
This image, titled The Mayflower Compact, 1620, depicts passengers on the Mayflower signing the document which would govern the way that they would act when they stepped onto land to begin their new lifes in America. This painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863-1930) is courtesy of WWikimedia Commons.
They also promised “all due submission and obedience” to these laws.
This memorial bas relief of the Signing of the Mayflower Compact is on Bradford Street in Provincetown, Massachusetts, on the Pilgrim Monument. There were 102 passengers on the Mayflower. 41 of them, all adult males, signed the Mayflower Compact. The photograph of this work was taken on March 3, 2007 by Peter Whitlock. It is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Instead of following only the rules of the Plymouth Company, they decided that they could govern themselves.
William Bradford’s (1590-1657) transcription of the Mayflower Compact. This page is from his book,. Of Plimoth Plantation, putlished in 1645. It is courtesy of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Their document, known as the Mayflower Compact, was an important step towards self-government, and a basis for future constitutions.
“We whose names are under written …do…covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation…” This image, titled “Signing of the Mayflower Compact” was painted in 1900 by Edward Percy Moran (1862-1935). It is located in Pilgrim Hall Museum.
An exploring party went ashore and found the land “…the best they could find…”
The exploring party went ashore at Plymouth Harbor on December 21, 1620. Bradford noted “it was the best they could find, and the season and present necessity made them glad to accept of it. The records from the 1600s do not mention Plymouth Rock. Some inaccuracies are that the Pilgrims are wearing trousers and other costumes more typical of the early 1800s than the early 1600s. The painting by Sarony & Major was circa 1846. It is titled “The Landing of the Pilgrims, on Plymouth Rock, December 11th 1620. “ Note the title says December 11th, not December 21st. It is courtesy of the the Library of Congress.
The first structure to be built, a “Common House” took two weeks to complete during harsh weather.
The first structure to be completed, the Common House, was a twenty-foot square thatched building which probably bore little resemblance to this large structure. This image titled “The Pilgrims Holding Their First Meeting for Public Worship in America “ is by Georg Johann Schwartze (1814-1874). It is at the Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
That winter, the colonists at Plymouth, like the Jamestown colonists, had their own “starving time.”
This photograph of a person interpreting the life of a blacksmith was taken at Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, Massachusetts by Swampyank on October 24, 2009. It is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
During the first winter, over half of the 102 Englishmen died from starvation and disease.
This image of a house at the recreated Plimouth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts was taken in August, 2003 by Ben Fraske. Plimouth Plantation, a living history museum, loosely follows events that occurred with the English settlers in 1627. This photograph is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
It is believed that the English colonists buried their dead at night so that any watching Indians would not know how many people had died, and how weak they were.
Burial Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts contained the first meeting house. It is believed that many of the first Pilgrims who died were also buried here. This image was drawn circa 1876 and is for A Popular History of the United States by William Cullen Bryant and Sydney Howard Gay. It appears on page 406.
In the spring of 1621 an Indian boldly walked into Plymouth and shocked the inhabitants by welcoming them in English. His name was Samoset.
This image, titled “Samoset, The Indian Visitor” appeared in, Harpers Weekly Magazine, volume 57 in 1857. It is courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Samoset had learned English from fishermen on the coast of what is now the State of Maine.
In this image, fishermen are cleaning and drying codfish. There was money to be made in codfishing because cod could easily be preserved for transportation to Europe by salting and drying. Fish were cleaned in the shed on the left and then dried on either the beach or on the rack called a “stage” on the right. This image is from Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau’s (1700-1782) Traites General de Peches.
Samoset, who was visiting the local Indians, soon returned with someone who could speak English much better than he could– Squanto.
Squanto (circa 1580s-1622) was very important in helping the Pilgrims after their first winter in Massachusetts. This detail is from an American lithograph produced in 1873. It is in the Granger Collection, New York, New York.
Squanto had learned English from being kidnapped and taken to Europe twice.
The first time that Squanto was kidnapped, he was taken to England. He might have come back in 1614 with Captain John Smith (of Jamestown fame) when Smith was exploring the New England area. The second time, Squanto was kidnapped, he was taken to Spain where he escaped to England. He returned on a ship to America in 1619. This image, created circa 1918, is from the History Reader, page 79.
When he returned to America after the second kidnapping he learned that his village (on the site where the Pilgrims now lived) had been wiped out by disease.
The Pilgrims had been able to land at Plymouth without opposition from the Indians/Native Americans . One of the reasons that they had been able to land safely was because the village on the site where they settled had a plague kill all of the inahabitants the year before they landed. Squanto was the only survivor of this village since he had been away when the plague struck. This image, created circa 1918, is from the History Reader, page 78.
Squanto helped the Pilgrims recover from the harsh winter by teaching them to grow corn (maize) by using fish as fertilizer.
Squanto not only taught the Pilgrims how to use the local fish (herring) to fertilize their crops, he taught the colonists how to catch the herring in the manner that the natives did and also how to catch eels and other local wildlife for food. This image, created in 1911 is from The Teaching of Agriculture in the High School, and is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Squanto also became a translator/interpreter for the Pilgrims and introduced them to the local leader of the Wampanoag tribe, Massasoit.
This image is titled “Massasoit and His Warriors.” Massasoit (circa 1581-1661) was the sachem or leader of the Wampanoag Confederacy. He would negotiate a treaty guaranteeing the English their security in exchange for their alliance against the Narragansett Indians. This image was created circa 1857 and is courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Massasoit and the Pilgrims negotiated a peace treaty which lasted for forty years.
Massasoit smoking a peace pipe with Governor John Carver in Plymouth on March 22, 1621. Massasoit’s trading with the Pilgrims during their early years helped to prevent the failure of the Plymouth Colony. He also warned the Pilgrims if other Native American tribes had plans to attack them. This image is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
The Plymouth Colony celebrated a feast of Thanksgiving in the autumn of 1621 because of their good harvest.
“The First Thanksgiving” was painted circa 1912-1915 by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863-1930). This ia a romanticized (idealized) version, and has some historical inaccuracies. The clothing worn by the Pilgrims is incorrect. The Wampanoags did not wear feathered war bonnets. The Wampanoags also would not have been sitting on the ground. This was not the first Thanksgiving in what is now the United States. The Spanish had a celebration of Thanksgiving in Florida in 1565. In Virginia, Thanksgiving services might have been routine as early as 1607. This image is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Plymouth survived, and by the 1630s this settlement of the Pilgrims or Separatists had a population of around 2000 people.
Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum located in Plymouth, Massachusetts. This image was taken on September 18, 2002 by Nancy and is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
However, it would take the Puritans to make Massachusetts a more populous colony.
This image, titled “The Puritan” was created circa 1845. It is courtesy of the Library of Congress.