On September 6th 1620 the Mayflower left England bound for the new world with 102 passengers aboard and after little over two months the ship dropped anchor in what is now Provincetown Harbor on November 11th 1620. The English Separatist known as pilgrims wanted to live where they could practice their religion freely without oppression from the English church and the English government. The journey claimed only two lives from disease but while anchored in the bay half the people on board died from either scurvy or tuberculosis and all the surviving passengers went ashore at Plymouth between March 21st and March 31st 1621 and then on April 5th the Mayflower returned to England and most People believe that the ship was dismantled in London. The mayflower was supposed to be bound for the mouth of the Hudson River near modern day New York but went off course during the winter months and ended up in Cape Cod Bay where it remained until March of the next year.
The Mayflower was originally used as a cargo ship trading goods to other European countries, mainly France and between 1609 and 1622 Christopher Jones was her captain. The size of the ship is unknown, but based on 180 ton ships of the day it is estimated that the ship was between 90 and 110 feet long and 25 feet wide at its widest point. The vessel had a crew of between 25 and 30 people but there are only 5 people that we can put a name to, including William Bradford who gives us our only account of the voyage. The ship wasn’t built for passengers at all and the long 2 month trip must have been very uncomfortable for the pilgrims. The last record of the ship noted that it was not in very good sailing condition and was considered to be more valuable as wood and there is a myth that the wood was used to build the Mayflower barn in the Quaker village of Jordans near Buckinghamshire England.
There have been a lot of myths about the Mayflower and the Pilgrims, one such myth is that the pilgrims stole the land for their colony from the Indians and treated them poorly. In fact the Pilgrims settled on a piece land that was called Patuxet by the Indians. In 1618 the Patuxet tribe was wiped out by plaque, most likely smallpox or tuberculosis. The Indians had no objection to the Pilgrims settling the land and actually helped them out in many different ways like teaching them to farm the local foods and even taught them how to hunt. Another myth is that the passengers of the Mayflower were Puritans. The passengers of the Mayflower were in fact Separatist which wanted to separate from the Church of England completely while the Puritans wanted simply to purify the church. The Mayflower has become a important part of American history and there is now a Mayflower memorial on the original site where the Pilgrims settled.