The Pilgrims were a group of people that disagreed with the religious teachings of the Church of England. They wanted to be free.
These people had different beliefs than the rest of the English people. In 1606, they formed their own church.

external image de_Critz_James_I_1605-6.jpgAt this time, the Church of England was the same as the Government of England. In other words, King James I was the head of both the country and the church. Not belonging to the church meant not obeying the king.

So the Pilgrims left England, in search of a safe place to practice their religion. They went to Holland and they lived there for 12 years. But they were very poor. So they finally decided to sail to North America. Happily they found a group of business people who were willing to give them money in exchange for a share of the profits made in America.

First they sailed back to England. They had a ship but it wasn't good enough to make the journey. They found the right ship: the Mayflower.
In 1620, on September 16 they set sail from Plymouth to North America.

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The ocean crossing was long and difficult. Two people died, and one baby was born.On November 9, they saw land.

A few days later, they dropped anchor at Cape Cod, which is now in Massachusetts. A small group of pilgrims went ashore and looked for food and shelter, while most of the people stayed aboard the Mayflower.
The entire group of pilgrims finally went ashore and began to build a settlement. It was December 23, and the place was Plymouth.

The first winter was very hard. More than 40 people died. In the spring, they began to plant food and continued to explore their new home.

On March 16, Samoset and another Native American entered the Plymouth settlement and said, in English, "Welcome, Englishmen." The Pilgrims were amazed. Samoset explained that he had learned their language from English fishermen who had fished there in the winter. The two peoples exchanged greetings and ideas. They became friends.

A few days later, Samoset returned with Squanto, another Native American leader. The Pilgrims welcomed him, too. Soon, Massasoit, the leader of the large tribe the Wampanoag, visited Plymouth. The two peoples signed a peace treaty that would last 50 years.

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The Native Americans had taught the Pilgrims how to plant crops. Soon, the settlement was growing lots of food. Later that year, in the fall, the Pilgrims celebrated the harvest. They invited their Native American friends to join them. This has become known as the first Thanksgiving.
The Plymouth colony thrived. More people were born, and more people arrived from Europe.
The Pilgrims, in seeking freedom from religious punishment and economic hardship, had found in the New World new friends and a new way of life.

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The Mayflower Crossing game