Imagine yourself as one of the travelers aboard the Mayflower. After 65 days at sea, you and 101 other travelers had survived the journey. Joyfully, you were able to breathe fresh air once again! For the most part, you had been forced to remain below deck because of the rough seas on the Atlantic Ocean. You had shared the cramped conditions with both Pilgrims and others who had paid to leave the shores of England. There had been threats of violence if the boat was not turned around during storms, and there were tensions at various points between the Pilgrims and other travelers. The space you shared with others below deck was drastically limited by the modest dimensions of the Mayflower (90 feet in length and 26 feet in width). One young traveler had died, and you watched another man miraculously survive after being thrown overboard. You and many of your fellow passengers had suffered what seemed to be perpetual nausea during the voyage. When you were able to eat, you were “treated” to salted fish, porridge, hard biscuits, and beer.
Read a description of the Pilgrims’ arrival from the journal of William Bradford who would soon become the Governor of the Plymouth Colony:
“Being thus arived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees & blessed ye God of heaven, who had brought them over ye vast & furious ocean, and delivered them from all ye periles & miseries therof, againe to set their feete on ye firme and stable earth, their proper elemente. And no marvell if they were thus joyefull, seeing wise Seneca was so affected with sailing a few miles on ye coast of his owne Italy; as he affirmed, that he had rather remaine twentie years on his way by land, then pass by sea to any place in a short time; so tedious & dreadfull was ye same unto him. But hear I cannot but stay and make a pause, and stand half amased at this poore peoples presente condition; and so I thinke will the reader too, when he well considered ye same. Being thus passed ye vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before in their preparation (as may be remembred by yt which wente before), they had now no friends to wellcome them, nor inns to entertaine or refresh their weatherbeaten bodys, no houses or much less townes to repaire too, to seeke for succoure. .. Let it also be considred what weake hopes of supply & succoure they left behinde them, yt might bear up their minds in this sade condition and trialls they were under; and they could not but be very smale. It is true, indeed, ye affections & love of their brethren at Leyden was cordiall & entire towards them, but they had litle power to help them, or them selves; and how ye case stode betweene them & ye marchants at their coming away, hath already been declared. What could not sustaine them but ye spirite of God & his grace? May not & ought not the children of these fathers rightly say : Our faithers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this willdernes; but they cried unto ye Lord, and he heard their voyce, and looked on their adversitie…”
Please take a moment to be thankful for the brave travelers aboard the Mayflower. They sacrificed so much during their journey. As we will discuss in the coming days, their hardship had only begun. It is that willingness to endure in order to reap the benefits of liberty that is What IS Right With America.
The attached image is of Plymouth Harbor courtesy of NASA.
Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.