The Pilgrims’ story reminds us of the tremendous obstacles they overcame to leave the relative comfort of Leyden, Holland and settle a congenial community in the wilderness of the New World. Today we Americans live in the freedom that the colonists hoped to find in this new world. We can hardly imagine the hardships they suffered.
Yet some of us will gorge, watch football or shop on Thanksgiving Day. Others, like the Pilgrims, will reflect and thank God for the freedom they pursued and pioneered on Cape Cod in 1620.
*Freedom from Want is both a quote from President Franklin D. Roosevelt during a speech in 1941 and a well-known painting depicting a family Thanksgiving dinner by Norman Rockwell, published in 1943.
In the spring of the year 1610, 401 years ago, the congregation of Englishmen from Scrooby left Amsterdam to take up residence at Leiden after a contentious few months with the Ancient Brethren. It was a heart-wrenching move to leave the Brethren who had helped them survive in Holland, but the Scrooby people feared that constant bickering among the Brethren would poison their own risky venture before it had been firmly established.
Their pastor, Richard Clyfton, did not make the move to Leiden, believing that the Brethren were sincerely trying to follow their faith. John Robinson and William Brewster became Pastor and Elder of the Scrooby congregation facing a difficult adjustment for English yeomen (farmers) to an urban society speaking a strange language. How would these countrymen fare in a culture so different from their own?
Fay’s First Blog
I welcome all readers interested in the American Pilgrims and their determined quest for freedom from government thought control.
My book, One Candle’s Light, (Oaktara, 2009) is a historical novel beginning with William Brewster’s coming-of–age around 1578 in rural England and continuing through the community’s home at Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts in 1622.
I made three trips to England to research the Pilgrims’ individual stories and the gathering of their community. At key sites in England American groups have erected monuments to memorialize these Englishmen and their determined effort to seek freedom instead of power. Some of the buildings the Pilgrims used are still standing, notably Scrooby Manor and Babworth Church. The English are famous for preserving sturdy buildings and their historical significance.
From the point of view of Americans, the most significant contribution the Pilgrims made to American history was that they were part of the English Reformation of the Christian church which swept Europe and England in the 16th Century. The Pilgrims therefore became known as the “Pilgrim Fathers” celebrated at Plimoth Plantation as the first permanent family settlement in America.
For readers interested in authentic details of the Pilgrims’ quest I recommend Jeremy Bangs’ definitive work, Strangers and Pilgrims: Traveler and Sojourners, published in 2009. It is an exhaustive history and bibliography of the Pilgrims’ story.
Fay Alexander, author – One Candle’s Light