"Mayflower" by Nathaniel Philbrick
The author writes in the preface that, "we all want to know how it was in the beginning." "The beginning," that he writes about is the first colony that was established that had women and children, families; the first colony of people that left the previous homelands in order to have religious freedom, and the first successful permanent colony in America. Jamestown had been founded in 1607, but had not been a success, most of the men had died of starvation and disease. The Puritans had separated themselves from the Church of England, and in 1608 re-located to Leiden, Holland. The Puritans left Holland fearing their children were becoming too integrated into the dutch society. The voyage to America took 65 traveling days, their were 102 people and 2 dogs, 3 of the people were pregnant mothers. On November 11, 1620 they finally arrived at Province town Harbor, Massachusetts, and on November 15 they came ashore. The Puritans established Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts which then spread out over the New England area. In 1630 17 ships brought 1000 English men, women and children. In just a few years the areas of Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Connecticut would be inhabited by the Pilgrims. They were mainly farmers, artisans, families. Relationships were made with the local Native Americans, and they were introduced to farming in this new world, the Indians taught the Puritans to use dried herring fish to fertilize the the soil. They were taught where to fish, and the trading of furs. There was fighting amongst the tribes and with the Pilgrims. The main war was King Philip's war, this was from 1675-1676. Philip was the leader of the Indian tribe Pokanokets, eventually only 30 of his braves were left, and then he aligned himself with the Nipmucks. The Pilgrims outlasted the Native Americans, but if the Mohawks who were the most feared of the Indian tribes in the northeast, and the french, had aligned themselves with King Philip there might have been a different ending. The book is full of much historical research, facts and figures, but yet it becomes very personal by the telling of many stories of the Puritans, and the first Pilgrims, also stories of the Native Americans in the New England area. After reading this book I have learned that there is a difference between Puritan and Pilgrim. Puritan was the name of the particular group that first arrived, they were a specific religious group. Pilgrim refers not only to Puritans but also to all the other peoples that first came to America, such as the Quakers that arrived in 1655, and Baptists, or those that were people of money and wanted to build a new life in this new world. The author states that their are "35 million descendants of the Mayflower, which is about 10 percent of the American population."
I had read another of Nathaniel Philbrick's books in the past,"In the Heart of the Sea", another excellent book, hard to put down.
After reading this book I have already decided what my summer of 2008 reading study will be, American History.