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Plymouth, 1621

Travel back in time and become the Thanksgiving expert in your family, and make real food for your own Thanksgiving table to honor the native Wampanoag people and the English pilgrims.

Part 6 - The English Come Ashore

Lynley Jones

Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882)

Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882)

The year is 1620.

The Mayflower is arriving!

The Mayflower is aiming for New York City - but it misses.

In 1620 it isn't called New York, and of course there is no city yet.  But the mouth of the Hudson River, where New York City will be in the future, is exactly where the Mayflower is planning to land.  It's in the northern part of what the English call "Virginia."  That would be a good place to settle because it's a great place for fishing and farming, and the English already have other settlements in Virginia.

But strong winds and storms have pushed the Mayflower north, so when the finally spot land, they are way off course!

Our "Remember Allerton," the Mayflower passenger who came to visit the Adventure Kitchen last week. 

Our "Remember Allerton," the Mayflower passenger who came to visit the Adventure Kitchen last week. 

Five year-old Remember Allerton probably doesn’t care what the “right” spot is for landing.  She just wants to get off the ship!  She and her family have been on ships for the last 4 months, and she is longing to stand on dry land, feel the sunshine on her skin, and explore their new home.  Can they please get off the ship now?

The answer is no.  The Mayflower will try to head south toward the “right” spot.  They try for 2 days to sail to where they are supposed to be.  But the sea is too shallow.  The ship’s captain is afraid they might wreck the ship and drown , so he finally refuses to keep trying.  They have to find a place to land near where they are.

As the ship heads toward a good landing spot, the grownups get upset.

The original Mayflower Compact was lost!  This copy was rewritten by William Bradford, who would later become Governor of Plymouth Colony.  Click to find out what it says.

The original Mayflower Compact was lost!  This copy was rewritten by William Bradford, who would later become Governor of Plymouth Colony.  Click to find out what it says.

They are off course, in a strange place where they don’t have legal approval from England to settle. Food is running short, people are starting to get really sick and everyone is afraid.

Some of the business “adventurers” are saying they are going to go their own way.  Angry grownups start shouting.  There are guns and other weapons aboard.  What if they start fighting each other for power?

Fortunately,  they keep talking instead of fighting, and eventually they calm down.  The Puritans are a very close-knit group, and the business “adventurers” decide they will be better off if they stick with them.  They decide they will write up an official agreement.  This will become known as the famous  “Mayflower Compact.”

There is a long meeting to get all the words just right.  In the end, the Mayflower Compact says that they will put together their own little government.  They will make rules and everyone will follow them.

 
Signing the Mayflower Compact 1620, by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899)

Signing the Mayflower Compact 1620, by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899)

They decide the men must sign the Mayflower Compact before anyone can leave the ship. (Why the men?  Click to find out.)   Some men don’t know how to write, so they sign with an X.  Some men are too sick, so they don’t sign at all.  Remember’s father Isaac Allerton signs the Mayflower Compact along with 41 others.

It's November 21, 1620.

The meeting is over and it's finally time to get off the ship.

The first thing to do is …laundry!  Everyone stinks, and wearing those dirty clothes feels awful.  They go ashore and the women wash everyone’s clothes in some fresh water.   (Why the women? Click to find out.)

The Landing of the Pilgrims, by Henry A. Bacon (1877)

The Landing of the Pilgrims, by Henry A. Bacon (1877)

Finally, with clean clothes to change into, everyone feels a little better.  But at night, they still go back aboard that stinky, damp Mayflower to sleep.  They will have to do that for the next 5 months.  There is no place to sleep on land until they build themselves homes.

This post originally appeared on 11/11/14.


 

It will be a long time before the Mayflower passengers have ovens to cook in!  But once they do, cornbread will be one of the things they eat every day.

Modern Cornbread made in the Adventure Kitchen, November 2014

Modern Cornbread made in the Adventure Kitchen, November 2014

  • Coarse cornmeal
  • Salt (brought on the Mayflower)
  • Possibly eggs (historians aren't sure if they brought chickens aboard the Mayflower)

 

  • Flour (no wheat in Plymouth Colony)
  • Baking powder (not invented yet)
  • Sugar (no sugar brought on the Mayflower)
  • Milk (no cows brought on the Mayflower)