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6 Myths About The Pilgrims Debunked

California State Library, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

4. The pilgrims fed the indigenous people out of pity.

False. The pilgrims arrived at Plymouth in December 1620 and they would have never survived the winter if not for the natives. They arrived on unknown land, not knowing the peculiarities of the soil and due to the season and the low temperatures, they could not grow anything. Relying on the scarce provisions from the voyage and what they found in the Wampanoag camp would not have lasted them long.

Thus, it was the other way around. The natives helped the Plymouth colony and taught them how to find and preserve food in the new environment, how to hunt, fish, and farm the land.

5. The pilgrims ran away to New England seeking religious freedom. 

Half-truth. While this is true, its only half of the story. Part of the Colony that crossed the ocean to get to New England was Puritan and did come in order to escape persecution from the Church of England. However, it was not their first attempt. They first fled to the Netherlands and while they were not persecuted there, they found it hard to adapt and find jobs, and soon were scared of the local culture’s impact on their children.

That’s how they decided to secure the ship and go start a colony in America, however, they took with them a number of explorers and sailors to be able to complete the voyage, as well as servants. 

The puritans were actually less than half of the whole 100 people on the ship and they went to New England with the scope of converting the natives to Christianity. They believed it to be the only religion worth following so it ended up being that they cannot be persecuted but others could be.

6. The pilgrims and Wampanoags came together to celebrate Thanksgiving together.

False. This is the biggest myth of them all, started centuries after the feast from November 1621. The two parties never came together voluntarily. The pilgrims were happy that their harvest has been plentiful and that it seemed like they could settle fully and easily. They threw a party and in the throes of their celebration, they fired their guns which alerted the natives thinking there was an incoming war. They were never invited, despite being the reason they could hold a harvest celebration in the first place.

When the natives arrived at the Plymouth Colony they found a celebration, not a fight. In order to avoid any animosity, they joined the celebration and brought five deer to contribute as a sign of goodwill. It was not a happy celebration of camaraderie, but rather a tense moment, full of political implications.

Did you know all of this about the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving? 

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