October 10, 2011 by staff
Thanksgiving History, In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower sailed from Plymouth, England with 102 passengers, an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their religion and others attracted by the promise of prosperity and land in the New World.
After a dangerous crossing and uncomfortable, which lasted 66 days, dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, north of its destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. A month later, the Mayflower crossed the Bay of Massachusetts, where the pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began work to establish a town in Plymouth.
Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the settlers remained on board the ship, where they suffered exposure, scurvy, and infectious disease outbreaks. Only half of the original Mayflower passengers and crew lived to see his first spring in New England.
In March, the remaining settlers moved to the ground, where they received a surprise visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by a sea captain, English and sold into slavery before escaping to London and return to their country on a scouting expedition.
Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and disease, how to grow corn, the extract from the sap of maple trees, catching fish in rivers and avoid poisonous plants. Settlers also helped to forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which lasted more than 50 years and, tragically, remains a unique example of harmony between European settlers and Native Americans.
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