The Pilgrims



The Mayflower


cape cod aerial

Bird's-Eye View of Cape Cod


signing the mayflower compact

Signing the Mayflower Compact


plimoth plantation

A Present-Day Model of Plimoth Plantation

Who Were the Pilgrims?

The Pilgrims were a group of people from England who were loyal and faithful to their religious beliefs. But the English king, James I, said anyone who didn't belong to the Church of England would go to jail. The Pilgrims decided to move to a place where they could freely practice their own religion in peace. First, the Pilgrims migrated to Holland, in the Netherlands. Then, the Pilgrims decided they would set sail for North America.

The Mayflower

The Pilgrims sailed across the Atlantic Ocean towards North America in a large ship called the Mayflower. There were 41 Pilgrims on board, as well as 61 other people like soldiers, crafstmen, and sailors. The Mayflower was cramped and the trip across the ocean was long and difficult. Luckily, only 2 people died on the journey, and a baby boy named Oceanus was even born on board. The Mayflower finally reached land off the rocky coast of what is now Massachusetts. The Pilgrims named this area Provincetown, at the tip of Cape Cod.

Rollover the image above to see what the inside of the Mayflower was like!

The Mayflower Compact

Before stepping foot on land, the Pilgrims wanted to set rules for their new colony. This is called self-government. The Pilgrims wrote these rules down on paper and called it the Mayflower Compact. They chose William Bradford as their first governor.

From Provincetown to Plimoth

The Pilgrims soon found better land to build their settlement on, at the edge of the Massachusetts Bay. The land had firm soil, provided a view of the entire bay, and had freshwater springs nearby. The Pilgrims called their new settlement Plimoth Plantation. We know this settlement by the name of Plymouth today.

The First Winter

The weather soon got very cold and the Pilgrims spent most of the winter aboard the Mayflower. During the first winter, nearly half of the Pilgrims died from sickness or hunger. It seemed to some of the remaining Pilgrims that the Plimoth colony was hopeless.

Want to know what happened next? Click here to find out who offered the Pilgrims some help.