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The colonists who settled Plymouth, which later became part of Massachusetts, were looking for a place where they could worship God according to their consciences. They had been persecuted in England and a large community of them had developed in the town of Leyden in the Netherlands. There, they were allowed to pursue their Bible-based beliefs in peace, but found after a time that their children, especially, were beginning to pick up Dutch attitudes and habits along with the language of their new home. They decided to seek out an arrangement whereby they could move to the territories claimed by England in America. They were able to find a company of investors who would bankroll their move and arrange for a Patent, or legal document, giving them control over a piece of land there. In return for this, the colonists would provide to the investors furs acquired through trade with the Natives and other natural resources, such as lumber.

There were two ships hired for the journey to America, the Speedwell and the Mayflower. After being turned back by bad weather, it was determined that the Speedwell leaked so badly she was unseaworthy. Because of this, a large portion of the potential settlers was left behind, while over a hundred people sailed in the Mayflower. There were many aboard who were not fellow believers, but were brought along because of their skills as sailors, craftsmen, fishermen and the like.

The colonists found it very difficult to establish a new settlement amid people who were strange to them, in a new harsh environment. Before they could honor their business commitments in London, they had to provide shelter and food for their families in a place where their English wheat would not grow very well.

The colonists also found that when they did try to establish trade with the natives, who were then commonly called Indians, there were already trading arrangements in place between the natives and the Dutch, and that the French were also trading competitors. The newcomers had many challenges ahead of them.


Books in this series:

    1622    Mourt´s Relation

    1634    Good News from New England - Edward Winslow

    1669    Morton´s Memorial - Nathaniel Morton

    1736    A Chronological History of New England - Rev. Thomas Prince

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