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Religious freedom motivated the Pilgrim Fathers to found America

Posted in America, Historical articles, History, Politics, Religion on Friday, 30 March 2012

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This edited article about the Pilgrim Fathers originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 680 published on 25 January 1975.

Pilgrim Fathers, picture, image, illustration

The Pilgrim Fathers land in America at Plymouth Rock by Peter Jackson

There were tears in the eyes of most of the people gathered on the deck, watching the coast of an England they would never see again slowly recede into the mists. Above them, the sails billowed under a brisk breeze as the captain set the ship’s course westward for a 3,000 mile journey across the Atlantic, which was to take its passengers to a new and unknown world.

The ship that had sailed out of Plymouth on that day in 1620, was The Mayflower, and it carried on board a party of colonisers who were to become known as The Pilgrim Fathers.

They had left England because they were Puritans, who had suffered from the religious intolerance of those times, and North America seemed to them the ideal place to make a new life for themselves.

They were the first of the many, though the others that followed went for different reasons. They went because they were ill-paid agricultural workers or craftsmen, or because rising rents had created a land shortage. All of them were convinced that they were making their way to a new Utopia.

To achieve this goal, all of them suffered incredible hardships, and many of them died on the journey. Crowded between decks, they lived on putrid salt meat, ale and dry biscuits. Those who did reach their destination, built villages and settled on the land, only to find themselves constantly harassed by warlike Indians.

But somehow, they managed to survive and prosper. All they had asked for in the first place was an acre of land of their own. But in the end they achieved much more than this. They prospered and English trade with America prospered with them.

But in a way, it was sad that they had left England, because the 17th century was an age of real awakening in this country, especially in the field of science. In this century, William Harvey discovered the facts about the circulation of the blood. William Gilbert developed the study of electro-magnetism, and a man named Joseph Sydenham became the father of modern medicine.

But if they were completely divorced from these important events, those early pioneers who had risked everything to settle in North America, were indirectly making a contribution of their own which was to change the course of history, inasmuch as it could be said that they founded the nation that in the course of time was to become the mighty American Republic.

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