Why the Mayflower Matters

Erica Hahn introduced a stimulating and timely program about the history and challenges for our early Pilgrim settlers, beginning in 1620 with 102 men, women and children establishing a colony at Plymouth.

Erica gave us a history lesson on the Roman Catholic church, the predominant religion in western Europe in the 1600’s.  The church divisions driven by the Calvinist belief in predetermination vs the Armenenisiam view of man’s choice in the matter of salvation, and Martin Luther’s establishment of the Reformation church.

Also a quick trip down memory lane with Henry VIII seeking an annulment of his marriage, which the church could not do, therefore the establishment of Protestantism in western Europe.

Beginning with and following the “discovery” of the new world by Christopher Columbus in 1492, the early efforts to colonize the new world were driven by the quest for riches.  France, Spain, Denmark, Great Britain and others sought gold, beaver pelts, cod, cochineal (a bug used for its red dye) and silver.  Many of the colonial attempts, like Jamestown in 1607, were comprised of only men and the death rate was as high as 50%. They did not want to plant or build the infrastructure needed to sustain a community.

By contrast, the “separatists” from western Europe as they were called lived in Leiden Holland for about 12 years before coming to the new world.  They were not coming to get rich, but to plat, build and create a colony to live in.  The Mayflower arrived in 1620 in Cape Cod, shortly thereafter creating the Mayflower Compact, an agreement among the new settlers.  In 1621 they had the first Thanksgiving Feast, with food including turkeys and deer meat provided partially by the native Indians.

There are as many as 30 million direct descendants of the Pilgrims in the U.S. and many famous ones like Marylyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Clint Eastwood, President Bush, Hugh Hefner and others like Ashley Smith an Arcadia Rotarian!  Erica says you can check out your history on Family Tree DNA.

Not enough about the Mayflower, check out the book “Mayflower” by Nathaniel Philbrick, a good read.  There are also Mayflower Society’s in many cities.