America… how much is in this word for many people. For centuries already, this country with vast territories and tremendous economical power is associated with new life, hope, and new exciting opportunities. Without a shadow of doubt, immigration is a big step, probably one of the biggest, decisions, a person makes in his/her life. This is because when living your home country and moving to a foreign one, a person erases his/her past and chooses to start everything from a new page.
Today when one is thinking about moving to a foreign country he/she has an opportunity to visit this country before the final decision or at least to carry out a through research. Still, moving is a very hard step to my. However, what about people who centuries ago left their home countries and went to settle in the new lands? Can we imagine how they felt and how hard for them was to move to “nowhere”? We probably would never be able to understand how they felt. Though, in my short paper I would like to talk about the brave people who were on board of the Mayflower and came to the United States to start their new life there.
The Mayflower was the famous ship that transported the Europeans, mostly from England, better known as the Pilgrims, from Southampton, England, to Plymouth, Massachusetts in early 1620s. According to the historical data, the Mayflower left England with one-hundred-two passengers and crew. Over the course of the voyage two babies were born, however, one child died during and there was one stillbirth during the construction of the colony.
It is understandable that the English came to the New World because of the same reasons other Europeans did so. This underlying reason was to go to the Americas in order to increase the wealth and broaden their influence over world affairs. However, when it came to the settlers travelling on the Mayflower in early 1600s the situation was different. Most of the passengers on board of the ship were Pilgrims who were fleeing the persistent religious persecution they were struggling to withstand back in Europe. Thus, the most important reason for them to leave their country was the freedom of religion.
Lower I would like to describe exactly what religious problems the early English settlers had to face. During the reign of James I, the Presbyterian majority unsuccessfully attempted to impose their ideas on the established English church at the Hampton Court Conference. The result was mutual disaffection and a persecution of the Puritans, particularly by Archbishop William Laud. Moreover, some ears later Charles I attempted to rule England without Parliament and its many Puritan members, this was the last drop for the Puritans who decided to leave immediately and settle in America.
Though, it must be remembered that before going to America the English puritans first moved to Holland. There they were they were able to exercise their religion freely, without any pressure from the state. However, as the time passed the people saw that Holland had a very bad influence on their children. For puritans, whose purpose in life was to purify the sinful world, it was intolerable that their children were being influenced by entertainment and a secular culture. Thus, they realized that the only way to stop “the loss of their children to the mundane world” they had to move somewhere else. With this major consideration, the Pilgrims set sail for a new world. The newly discovered America was their choice because there they would not have to deal with the opposition from cannibalistic savages and unexpected challenges of living in a foreign land. This was a risky step, however they were ready to make it in order to save their unique heritage (Foster, pp 35-36).
Thus, as it was made clear in the previous paragraphs, most of the people who were brought to America by the Mayflower were religious puritans who brought along their servants. Having arrived to the new land, particularly to the territories that are now called the New England the settlers started the new life. They organized a very strict social structure, in which every member of the newly formed community, from elders to children, had to perform defined tasks (Kirsten). As it was to be expected the colony lived in a very simple and modest style and a lot of attention was placed onto religious education and exercise. Remarkably, it was totally unacceptable for a member of the community to miss the Sunday service at the church. Exceptions were made only to those who had been coming down with serious illnesses (Cheney, 67).
The new colony began to flourish partly to the persistence and endurance of the people who were working tirelessly to build their new life. Also, the colonists have received some assistance from Native Americans. Even though, the native Americans were hostile towards the new settlers, they still engaged into trade with them and helped them with some valuable pieces of advice (Cheney, 79). The colonists cultivated the land, made attempts to grow cotton, however not all of their attempts were successful due to the lack of knowledge they possessed about the land (Cheney, p.65).
In conclusion, I would like to say that, It is well known that the Mayflower has a famous place in American history. It is a symbol of early European colonization as well as beginning of the formation of the country. The way the British puritans fled their country and settled in America where they could exercise their religion freely is also a symbol of religious freedom that the country is ready to offer to everyone.
Moreover, it has to be mentioned that even though the Puritans as a political entity for the most part disappeared, but Puritan attitudes and traditions continued to influence the American society. Even today, we can see the touch of the puritan culture on the America people. Due to the puritan culture it has become a tradition in the United States to place a great concern on the education. Additionally, the idea of congregational democratic church government that has been carried into the political life of the country as a source of modern democracy has also its roots in the puritan culture (Kirsten).
Cheney, G. A., Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims’ First Year in America, New London Librarium, 2007, pp. 65, 67, 79.
Foster, S., The Long Argument: English Puritanism and the Shaping of New England Culture, 1570–1700 1990, pp. 35-36.
Kirsten, S., The Frozen Echo: Greenland and the Exploration of North America, C.A.D.1000-1500, Chapter Nine, Greenland, 1450-1500.
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