United States Massachusetts Plymouth Colony
Plymouth Colony was a 17th Century British settlement and political unit on the east coast of North America. It was established in 1620; it became part of the Dominion of New England in 1686; in 1691 Plymouth and the Massachusetts Bay Colony were combined. Plymouth Colony included parts of New England, centered around Plymouth, Barnstable, and Bristol counties in Massachusetts. The Colony included parts of present-day Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maine. She claimed land north to Nova Scotia, south to Pennsylvania, and west to the Pacific Ocean. Her modern successor is now the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, one of the fifty United States.
Legacy. Plymouth Colony was an early example of a successful English Colony in North America. The Colony's good reputation contributed to the expansion of the British colonial system, including the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Indians who learned the English language while serving earlier, less successful, settlements were instrumental in helping Plymouth Colony leaders establish early good relations with native tribes. They also taught survival skills such as using dead fish as fertilizer for maize. The tradition of the American Thanksgiving feast goes back to the Plymouth Colony (although a Spanish settlement in North America had an earlier harvest festival). One in ten modern Americans has at least one ancestor who was among the first Mayflower arrivals in Plymouth Colony.
Separatists. Plymouth Colony was founded by English religious Separatists (and some Anglicans) who became known as Pilgrims. Some members of the group were jailed in England in 1607. By 1609 most had emigrated to Amsterdam, and then Leiden in the Netherlands. Not comfortable with the Dutch culture, and in still in danger from English authorities, by 1618 the Pilgrims decided to move farther away. They obtained a British patent and financial backing to colonize the mouth of the Hudson River. After many delays they sailed to Cape Cod, had difficulties going south to the Hudson River, and decided to settle at Plymouth. Since they were not in compliance with their patent, they drew up a document for self-government known as the Mayflower Compact.
First winter. During the first winter 45 of 102 Pilgrims died from diseases such as scurvy. Those men who were healthy enough built seven residences and four common houses on shore while the women, children, and sick stayed aboard the Mayflower, some for six months. Provisions were not taken ashore until the end of January 1621. Only 53 Pilgrims (4 adult women) survived to celebrate the first Thanksgiving in November 1621.