The Plymouth Colony was a British colony in present-day Massachusetts that was founded in 1620 by a group of English Puritans known as the Pilgrims.
A group of religious dissenters formed the colony in order to build a community in which they could freely practice their beliefs. The Pilgrims and Wampanoags struggled to coexist in the colony, which was constructed on the site of an abandoned Wampanoag settlement.
The colony struggled in its early years, but eventually succeeded, allowing other colonies in the region to grow and expand. In 1691, the colony was merged by the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Plymouth Colony Facts
1. The Mayflower Arrived in 1620
In 1620, the Pilgrims set sail aboard two ships, the Speedwell and the Mayflower. The Speedwell was supposed to be the main ship, but it proved unfit for the sea and had to return to port twice.
The Pilgrims eventually abandoned the Speedwell in favor of the Mayflower, a much larger and more sturdy ship.
Also Read: Colonial Massachusetts Facts
On September 6, 1620, the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers, including the Pilgrims, as well as crew members.
The Mayflower arrived at Cape Cod on November 9, 1620, after a 66-day sail over the Atlantic, and the Pilgrims established Plymouth Colony.
2. The Mayflower Compact Treaty was Signed in 1620
Before disembarking from the Mayflower, the Pilgrims signed a document known as the Mayflower Compact. The Mayflower Compact was a treaty signed on November 11, 1620, while the Mayflower was anchored in Provincetown Harbor that established a sort of self-government for the colony.
The Mayflower Compact was signed by 41 adult male passengers on the ship, representing the bulk of the adult men on board.
Also Read: Facts About the Connecticut Colony
The Mayflower Compact was a social contract that established the norms and principles for colonial governance. It established that the colony would be governed by “fair and equal laws,” and that all colonists would be bound to observe the laws enacted.
The Mayflower Compact was significant because it established a sort of self-government for the colony, allowing the Pilgrims to make their own laws and rule themselves without outside influence.
It is regarded as one of the first written constitutions in America, and it laid the groundwork for future democratic principles in the United States.
3. The Plymouth Colony was Annexed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony
Plymouth Colony was one of the smallest and most isolated of the New England colonies at its peak, occupying a relatively limited region in the southern portion of Massachusetts.
Plymouth colony was established in 1620 and slowly increased; by 1691, the colony’s population was estimated to be around 2,000 people. The Plymouth colony began in a small area around Plymouth harbor and gradually increased as the people grew and more land was cleared for cultivation.
In 1691, the Plymouth colony was annexed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, a much larger and more powerful colony that had been formed in the Massachusetts area in 1630.
4. The London Virginia Company Issued the Land Patent
They were once part of the Separatists, a group of separatists attempting to flee England for the Dutch Republic, where they might openly practice their religion.
However, because the Dutch Republic could not accommodate them, they decided to seek a land grant from the London Virginia Company in order to create a colony in the New World.
The London Virginia Company issued the Pilgrims a land patent in 1620, granting them the right to settle in what is now known as New England. This land patent enabled them to build the Plymouth Colony.
5. Site of the First Thanksgiving
Plymouth is most known for the 1621 “First Thanksgiving” feast shared by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people.
This is considered the earliest Thanksgiving celebration in America, however comparable thanksgiving and harvest feasts were conducted by other groups of people in the past.
The three-day feast is thought to have been conducted to commemorate the Pilgrims’ first successful harvest in the New World.
The Wampanoag, led by Chief Massasoit, were critical to the colony’s survival during the first difficult winter; they taught the Pilgrims how to harvest maize, fish, and hunt on the new territory.
Thanksgiving has been observed as an annual national holiday in the United States since the 1800s. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise” on the last Thursday of November in 1863.
The fourth Thursday of November was formally declared Thanksgiving Day by the United States Congress in 1941. Today, Thanksgiving is a national holiday in the United States, and it is a time for families and friends to gather and express gratitude for their blessings.
6. Several Groups Followed the Pilgrims
In 1621, a second group of people known as “The Strangers” joined the colony. The Strangers, unlike the original Pilgrims, were individuals who joined the colony for a variety of reasons, including economic possibilities or personal impulses.
They were also referred to as “Adventurers” or “Merchants”. They were not members of the religious group and held opposing viewpoints on governance and religious customs.
The Strangers landed on the Fortune, a ship carrying 35 passengers. They joined the colony the year after the Mayflower arrived, bringing much-needed additional work and increasing the colony’s population.
They were not as committed in the colony’s religious side, but they were critical to the colony’s economic prosperity.
The inclusion of “The Strangers” helped to diversify and develop the colony, but it also caused some tension and disagreement between them and the original Pilgrims regarding the colony’s governance and religious customs.
7. Merging with the Massachusetts Colony was Arranged by Royal Charter
The Plymouth Colony was an independent colony until 1691, when it was united into the Province of Massachusetts Bay, a geographical organization that encompassed the Massachusetts Bay Colony and other New England colonies.
This merger was arranged by King William III and Queen Mary II of England by the issuance of a royal charter in order to streamline administration and decrease expenditures in New England colonies.
The incorporation of the Plymouth Colony into the Province of Massachusetts Bay completely abolished the Plymouth administration and legal system, and the colony was absorbed into the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
The merger also widened the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s limits and brought the Plymouth colony under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Bay administration.
Many residents of Plymouth and other minor colonies were opposed to the merger, but it was deemed necessary in the interests of the Crown and the colonies.
8. John Carver was it’s First Governor
A council of elected leaders and a governor controlled the Plymouth Colony. The colony’s first governor, John Carver, was elected by the colony’s leaders and served from 1621 until 1623.
John Carver was one of the leaders of the group of religious dissenters known as the Pilgrims, and he played an essential part in the colony’s creation.
The colony was controlled by the “General Court,” a council of elected leaders and a governor made up of the colony’s adult male inhabitants who were members of the congregation.
This council was in charge of formulating laws, governing the affairs of the colony, and choosing the governor and other officials. The governor had the capacity to veto laws and make executive decisions, but the council had the last say.
The Plymouth colony’s governing system was built on the concept of “civil contract,” in which all residents of the colony, regardless of religious beliefs, agreed to adhere by the rules and principles established by the council and the governor.
9. Of Plymouth Plantation Chronicled the Pilgrims Lives
William Bradford’s chronicle, “Of Plymouth Plantation” has a wealth of information concerning the Pilgrims and the early years of the Plymouth Colony.
William Bradford was one of the leaders of the religious separatists known as the Pilgrims and one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact. He was the governor of the Plymouth Colony for about 30 years and was instrumental in its founding and progress.
“Of Plymouth Plantation,” Bradford’s journal, provides a thorough description of the Pilgrims’ trip to the New World, the creation of the colony, and the colonists’ everyday lives. The journal was composed over a number of years and spans the years 1620 to 1647.
The journal sheds light on the Pilgrims’ goals, beliefs, and experiences, as well as the difficulties they encountered in the New World.
It also details the Pilgrims’ dealings with the Wampanoag people, as well as their relationships with other tribes and nearby colonies. It also discusses the colony’s economic and political features.
10. It was an Early Example of Democracy in America
Although the Plymouth Colony existed for only a short time, it played an important role in American history. The colony was the region’s first permanent English settlement and served as a model for later colonization.
The founding of the colony heralded the start of a wave of European colonization in the Americas, and it established the precedent for subsequent colonies in the region.
The colony’s self-government system, as stated in the Mayflower Compact, served as a notable example of democratic ideas in the New World, laying the groundwork for future forms of government in America.
Interactions between the colony and the Wampanoag people were also significant in American history. The Pilgrims and Wampanoags created an alliance that allowed the colony to endure and thrive.
The Wampanoag taught the Pilgrims how to grow maize, fish, and hunt in the new country, which was critical to the colony’s survival.