A year after the birth of self-government and slavery in Jamestown, a new group of settlers founded the second of the English Colonies. The Church of England was a Protestant church, but many reformers felt that it too closely resembled the Catholic Church in doctrine and in materialism. The Puritans and Pilgrims were two such groups.
The Puritans were Calvinists who wanted to take over the Church of England, as well as the English government, and purify it. The Pilgrims were also Calvinists, but they believed the Church was too corrupt and they wanted to separate and be left alone to practice their beliefs and live the life they felt would honor God. The Puritans were a large and growing group. The Pilgrims, as they called themselves, or Separatists as everyone else called them, were small and persecuted.
The Pilgrims were unwilling to go along with everyone else, and some moved to the Netherlands, but still life was not easy. After Jamestown, some Pilgrims viewed the New World as the safe haven that would allow them to live and worship as they saw fit. In 1620, 102 settlers, of which only twenty-eight adults were Pilgrims and the rest were “strangers” or not Pilgrims, boarded the Mayflower for America. A second ship the Speedwell also set out, but was not seaworthy and could not continue.
After much negotiating the Plymouth Council of New England gained the charter for the land that makes up New England. The Pilgrims were settlers in that colony, not the owners. They had intended to settle far enough from Jamestown in what is now New York City to avoid the same persecutions experienced in England. They landed in what is now Massachusetts, tried to go to the Hudson River, but ran aground, and returned to found what is now Plymouth, Mass.
Editors Note: Travis Childs is a history instructor at Cameron University in Lawton, Okla. He is a graduate of Midway High School and lives in Bluegrove. He is currently president of the Clay County Historical Society.