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Opinion: The first Thanksgiving

In 1620, 102 English subjects set off from Europe with a charter to settle in Virgina Colony, a possession of the King of England. Their ship had been stocked with food stuffs, including sugar, a New World product that Europeans loved. Otherwise, the sojourners ate hardtack and food that was either pickled or dried so that it would not spoil.

The Ocean Crossing

The voyage was arduous for the 74 males and 28 females on board. Specifically, there were 50 men, 19 women, 14 teens, and 19 children. Three of the women were pregnant. The passengers were “separatists” who had left England before the sea voyage to seek religious freedom in Holland. In preparation for their ocean crossing, they petitioned King James I for permission to form their own colony, where they could preserve their “English identities.” Of course, their other goal was to be able to practice their religion without interference from the Crown or the Church of England.

They set off from the port of Southampton, Hampshire, with their hopes high and their eyes set on Virginia. As the Mayflower neared the continent, it encountered high and very rough seas. Battered by winds and waves, the ship was blown hundreds of miles off course and eventually made landfall on the tip of Cape Cod in Massachusetts.


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