The past is both foundation and prologue to our present—it can also give guidance for our future. But the story of the Pilgrims is not just any past, it is our past as a nation. The hopes, anxieties, courage and faith in God of that company Of plimoth plantation not only describe days long gone, but also provide encouragement, warnings, and wisdom for our own times.
These are links to posts I’ve written about the Pilgrims, arranged not in order of their publication, but in chronological order of the events. Before 1752 the English used the Julian calendar with the new year beginning on March 25. You’ll notice this if you read William Bradford’s Of Plimoth Plantation.
1621: The First Harvest Festival: the Pilgrim’s arrival at Cape Cod in November 1620, and events of the following winter, spring and autumn in 1621.
Corn, Capitalism & Compassion: their abandonment of communal farming in the spring of 1623, and the ensuing success that was had from assigning each man and his family their own land for crops.
Sweete and Gentle Showers: their deliverance from drought during the summer 1623, and the first civil appointment of a day set aside for thanksgiving.
The Mayflower Passengers: William Bradford’s 1650 annotated list, including those who died during that first year.
Grateful Hearts: on gratitude with a quote from Lincoln’s 1863 Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day. This post is not specifically about the Pilgrims, it was written for Thanksgiving and matches the events of their lives.
“Come Wind, Come Weather”: The Pilgrims gave us a foundation of self-government, a beneficial prosperity, and a Christian heritage of beliefs, character and world view. They also left us wisdom and warning for our future. William Bradford finishes his chapter on their safe arrival at Cape Codd in 1620 by saying:
May not and ought not the children of these fathers rightly say:
Our faithers were Englishmen which come over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this willdernes; but they cried unto the Lord, and he heard their voyce, and looked on their adversitie, etc. Let them therfore praise the Lord, because he is good, and his mercies endure for ever. Yea, let them which have been redeemed of the Lord, shew how he hath delivered them from the hand of the oppressour. When they wandered in the deserte willdernes out of the way, and found no citie to dwell in, both hungrie, and thirstie, their sowle was overwhelmed in them. Let them confes before the Lord his loving kindnes, and his wonderfull works before the sons of men.
The Pilgrims endured circumstances that cause us to blench just by reading about them. We have yet to face anything comparable. They persevered by God’s help. We will never be able to do so without Him.–
The monument at the grave of William Bradford has one inscription in Hebrew:
Jehovah is our help
Another in Latin:
What our fathers with so much difficulty secured,
do not basely relinquish
Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor, William Halsall: PD-US.
Of Plymouth Plantation, An Electronic Edition, William Bradford 1590-1657 (125). Original Source: Bradford’s History of Plymouth Plantation, 1606-1646. Ed. William T. Davis. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1908. Copyright 2003. This text is freely available provided the text is distributed with the header information provided.
Edward Winslow, Good News From New England, in The Story of The Pilgrim Fathers, 1606-1623 A.D.; as told by Themselves, their Friends, and their Enemies, Edward Arber, ed. (Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston MA: 1897) 580–581.