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Ahead of Thanksgiving Day 2017, a look back inside the Mayflower

By in Press Enterprise on November 20, 2017

By Jeff Goertzen

You’re crammed in a room, shoulder-to-shoulder with 100 other passengers.

It’s dark. It smells. It’s wet and very cold. There’s no privacy. No bathrooms. Your meals are pitiful — salted meat and a hard, dry biscuit. You, and people around you are sick, because the room is rocking side to side. There’s no fresh water and no change of clean clothes. In essence, you‘re trapped because land is thousands of miles away.

These conditions seem inhumane, but this was the Mayflower ship, the Pilgrims’ only means of transportation to a better life in the New Land.

The journey

To pay for the journey to America, the Pilgrims took a loan for 1,700 pounds. This was an astronomical sum of money, considering the average day’s wage back then was 10 pence. To repay the loan, the Pilgrims signed a legal contract called an indenture, which obligated them to work for seven years, six days a week, harvesting furs and cod. However, more than half the Pilgrims died from the bitter cold the first winter.

1. Aug. 15, 1620: Two ships (Speedwell and Mayflower) left Southampton. The ships were forced back twice because of leaks in the Speedwell.

2. Sept. 16: The Mayflower left Plymouth carrying 102 passengers from both ships.

3. Nov. 11: The Mayflower Compact was signed aboard the ship at sea. This was the first governining document of the new colony.

4. Nov. 21: The Mayflower anchored at Provincetown. By journey’s end, two passengers died and a boy was born.

mayflower sketchOCR-L-FOCUS-MAYFLOWER-FRONT1. Forecastle: Where meals were cooked and crew’s food supplies kept.

2. Upper deck: Where seamen worked and attended to the ship.

3. Masts: During a storm on the journey, the main beam cracked. The Pilgrims fixed it with a large screw they had brought for housebuilding.


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