Mayflower Voyage: Stepping onto the New World

With the compact signed, the time had now come to explore the New World. The day after the Mayflower Compact was signed was a Sunday, so the people took time to pray and worship.

The shallop that was on board now had to be reassembled to transport the men from where the Mayflower was anchored to land.

On November 15, 1620, Captain Myles Standish led a party of sixteen men on an exploratory mission.

On that first exploratory mission, the men located a buried cache of Indian corn and disturbed a Native American grave. This did not endear them to the Natives.

The next week, Susanna White gave birth to a son, Peregrine White. He was the first child born in the New World.

Captain Christopher Jones led a second expedition on November 27th, with thirty-four men.

A third expedition took place on December 6th, which led to a skirmish with the Native American’s. This became known as the “First Encounter”. While he was on the expedition, William Bradford’s wife, Dorothea, fell overboard the Mayflower and drowned.

Having failed to secure a proper settlement site, the Mayflower left Provincetown Harbor and sailed for Plymouth Harbor, where they arrived on December 16th.

John Alden, the ship cooper, and Mary Chilton, a thirteen-year-old girl, are reported to be the first man and woman to set foot on American soil.

There is a legend that the Pilgrims first stepped onto Plymouth Rock. But, the Pilgrims had explored Cape Cod before heading to Plimoth. John Alden is said to be the first to step onto Plymouth Rock.

The theory of Plymouth Rock originated in 1741 when Thomas Faunce made the claim when a harbor was proposed to be built. Faunce’s father arrived two years after the Mayflower and Faunce was a child and young man when many of the Pilgrim father’s were still alive. Great debate exists even today as to the validity of this claim.

While we seem to think of the Pilgrim’s as the first English explorer’s of the area, this was far from the case. John Cabot discovered the area in 1497 and laid the foundation for the English claims over the area. Other explorers arrived over the next 123 years. This included Captain John Smith, who is credited with naming the area New England.

The explorers spent three days looking for a settlement site, rejecting several locations. John Smith had marked the area the Pilgrims chose as New Plymouth {Smith published this finding in 1614}, which the colonists chose to retain in honor of the final place of their departure from England.

On December 25, 1620, construction began on their first buildings.

 

**Join me next year as we take a look at life in the New World