December 21st 1620: Mayflower lands

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Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882)

On this day in 1620, William Bradford and the Mayflower Pilgirms landed at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Mayflower transported the first English Pilgrims to America, with 102 passengers. When the Pilgrims disembarked, they founded the Plymouth Colony. The Plymouth Colony, along with Jamestown, Virginia, was one of the earliest successful colonies to be founded by the English in North America. The colony succeeded due to the help of Squanto, a Native American of the Patuxet people, and it was this co-operation between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans which inspires the Thanksgiving tradition in America.

 

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Plymouth Rock

The journey of the Mayflower is considered a major and symbolic event in American history. The Pilgrims established the idea of America as the ‘land of the free’ as they fled there to escape religious persecution. Despite these lofty ambitions, many question whether America is indeed a land of freedom and liberty. Racial minorities continue to suffer racism, homosexuals are still denied the right to marry in many states, and drone strikes abroad kill civilians with no legal process.

Though the Mayflower voyage was a few years before that of famous early settler John Winthrop, his words calling their new colony a “city upon a hill” remain poignant.

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