Why Plymouth Prospered When Others Floundered
It’s the time of year when postmodernists revise our understanding of history to paint a world and nation so thoroughly corrupted from its inception that propriety demands its eradication. They paint a world so depraved that our treasured moments of gratitude and family gathering must be replaced with self-loathing and unending repentance to Godless woke ideologies. The postmodernists intentionally impart modern context to historical events so that they might destroy the fabric of our nation. A proper perspective paints a more hopeful picture. A picture where a people desperate for religious freedom sought refuge in a distant and inhospitable land and found allies amongst people unlike themselves.
A proper survey of the world in the fifteenth thru seventeenth centuries provides a glimpse of a world in transition. At the time, the Catholic Church dominated much of the Western world, save for the Anglican territories. Religious influence was tantamount to political power. Monarchs were chosen by God, and material wealth was considered a reflection of the blessings of the Creator. It was this mindset that spawned the practice of selling indulgences and drove men to traverse the globe in search of the favor of monarchs and God. It was this practice that ultimately ended in the repeated failures of explorers to put down settlements in North America. It was the radically different approach employed by the pilgrims of Plymouth colony that we, in part, owe our existence to today.
The pilgrims of Plymouth colony were a group of English Puritan separatists who, having been persecuted in their homeland by the state Anglican Church, sought refuge in the Netherlands. Though free to worship, the urban industrial setting of the Netherlands was a poor fit for this agrarian sect. Having seen English persecution creeping into the Netherlands and having their children begin to acclimate to the Dutch culture and lifestyle, they pooled their resources to risk everything they had for a chance at life on their terms in the new world. In 1619, they applied for and received financing and a land patent that would allow them to settle at the mouth of the Hudson River in what is now Connecticut/New York.
Through multiple failed launches, deceitful lenders, and an at-times hostile ship crew and shipmates, the pilgrims would finally set sail aboard the Mayflower ship on September 6, 1620. After two arduous months at sea, they would be blown off course and arrive at Cape Cod on November 9, 1620. With winter setting in, they abandoned their initial charter at the mouth of Hudson Bay and instead anchored at what is today Plymouth, Massachusetts. Having abandoned their initial charter, they required a new governmental organization that would give them legal claims to their settlements. They drafted and signed the Mayflower Compact.
Before the arrival of the pilgrims of the Plymouth colony, numerous attempts to establish English settlements along the Eastern seaboard of North America had ended in the settlers’ demise. Settlements like the lost colony of Roanoke or Jamestown, Virginia, had seen most settlers perish due to disease, malnutrition, exposure to the elements, and war with native tribes. The primary difference between these past attempts and that of the Plymouth colony lay in motivation. Whereas prior attempts to settle North America had been driven by material wealth and prestige, the pilgrims of Plymouth colony largely sought freedom to worship God in the manner they wished. In this way, they were devoted to one another in pursuing communal success and not just material wealth to advance their cause.
With a devotion to God and each other, the pilgrims found divine favor where others did not. It was the kindness and unwavering faith of the pilgrims while crammed below the deck of a meager ship for two months that won over an at-times hostile ship crew. It was divine providence that landed the pilgrims in a harbor that was abandoned by the native Patuxet, who had been largely decimated by leptospirosis. In this way, they encountered lands that were already cleared and prepared for settlement. As an agrarian society, they were also better equipped to labor for their sustenance than prior English settlements that were largely manned by an unskilled and unwilling educated class.
It was divine providence that following a brutal first winter that saw half of their numbers perish, they were greeted by Samoset, an English-speaking native translator. Samoset introduced the pilgrims to Chief Massasoit of the Wampanoag tribe and Squanto, an English-speaking native and one of the remaining Patuxet tribe. It was these early relationships that would be the basis of the success of the Plymouth colony. Through these relationships, the pilgrims signed exclusive defense and trade treaties and established peace with the natives where prior colonies had failed. They were taught to subsist in a hostile and foreign land. It is these relationships that form the basis of the Thanksgiving we celebrate today.
When postmodernists attempt to reorient our thinking of the year 1619 to align with the Dutch indentured slave trade, it is not by accident. It is intended to pre-empt a pivotal moment in American history. That moment is the arrival of devoutly religious English separatists who showed us how to coexist among those unlike ourselves. It was their commitment to God and each other that saw them flourish when others floundered. They laid the foundations that our melting pot society enjoys today.