Rough seas and howling winds made the treacherous journey across the Atlantic Ocean more unsettling than the pilgrims originally anticipated. The crew of the Mayflower forced the pilgrims to stay below the main deck for the entire journey. One of the crew members who delighted in taunting the Separatists, died of unknown causes and was buried at sea. At an average of only two mph, their ocean voyage would take them far off route and land them 66 days later (on November 21, 1620) at First Encounter Beach, Provincetown, Cape Cod. Bradford and others left the crew in the ship and headed out on foot and row boat to search for a friendly place to call home. Exactly one month later, they discovered the clearing at Plymouth (previously named so on John Smith’s map) and returned to the ship with the good news. For William Bradford, however, December 21 would be a day of deep sorrow. He learned that shortly after his search party left the Mayflower, Dorothy, his wife, had fallen overboard and drowned. On Christmas day, the Mayflower left Cape Cod for Plymouth.
The separatist pilgrims quickly began their work on what would become “Plimoth Colony.” These holy people established an impressive colony to which the current nation owes a huge debt. The first winter killed off nearly half of these noble people of God. Indian scares made the living conditions at times seem nightmarish. Yet, they were not here for their comfort. These were pilgrims. They sought a land to worship God. Their sacrifices paved the way for the establishment of the greatest country in the world.
The eminent William Bradford is buried in Plymouth at “Burial Hill.” Burial Hill was the first area to be settled. Today, one can visit the hill and see on Bradford’s grave marker the Latin words which translate, “What your fathers with such difficulty attained, do not basely relinquish.”
These godly people gave their lives so that we could worship freely. Yet today, the pilgrims are considered simplistically “quaint” and not necessarily religious people. One only needs to read the Mayflower Compact to recognize the spiritual interest of the Pilgrims:
“In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, etc.
“Having undertaken for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together in a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini 1620.”