Painting by Isaac Claesz Van Swanenburg of workers in Leiden’s wool industry
On December 18, 1620, the English ship Mayflower docks at modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts, and its passengers prepare to begin their new settlement, Plymouth Colony.
The famous Mayflower story began in 1606, when a group of reform-minded Puritans in Nottinghamshire, England, founded their own church, separate from the state-sanctioned Church of England. Accused of treason, they were forced to leave the country and settle in the more tolerant Netherlands. After 12 years of struggling to adapt and make a decent living, the group sought financial backing from some London merchants to set up a colony in America. On September 6, 1620, 102 passengers–dubbed Pilgrims by William Bradford, a passenger who would become the first governor of Plymouth Colony—crowded on the Mayflower to begin the long, hard journey to a new life in the New World.
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