While we celebrated Christmas, or if you are pagan, Yule, a very important historical event took place on December 21st. It was an event that many on the Left would love to banish to the memory hole or change it to fit their needs. For you see, on December 21, 1620 the Pilgrims left the Mayflower and set foot on American soil. Two days later, in the frozen ground of Plymouth, they started construction on the settlement that was to be called Plymouth Colony.
Most of the “Pilgrims,” however, remained on the Mayflower and did not disembark until the end of March. In mid-April, the Mayflower itself pulled up anchor and headed back to England. The Plymouth colony lasted 72 years and eventually was swallowed up by the Province of Massachusetts Bay which eventually became the Puritan stronghold known as the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Contrary to popular belief, the settlers were not “pilgrims” in the traditional sense of the word. The term was not used to describe them until the 1800s. Instead, they referred to themselves as “saints” or “Brownists” after Robert Brown, a separatist from the Anglican Church. They were a sect of Calvinists who did not believe the Anglican Church could be “purified” to their set of beliefs. While wanting to remain culturally English, they left England for Holland under the reign of King James I. Many actually started to arrive in the New World years earlier in 1607 at Jamestown. Many were textile workers in England or Holland.
It was only after King James I placed pressure on the Dutch that the Separatists decided to set sail for America. One of the main motivating factors was a fear that their children were starting to assimilate into Dutch society. When the opportunity arose to sail across the Atlantic, they took it. They would remain English, but autonomous. There was only one financial obligation- repaying the joint stock company that sponsored the colony. They repaid in beaver pelts.
Although a dangerous trip (one ship, the Speedwell, was leaking), they embarked nevertheless. By November 19, they spotted Cape Cod but decided to make for the Hudson River only to be repelled by storms and currents. Instead, they turned around and headed back and dropped anchor where they drafted the Mayflower Compact, the first written form of self-government in the New World. For the next month, scouting parties looked for a place to settle and decided on “New Plymouth” named by Jamestown hero, John Smith who explored the coast (he also named this general region “New England”).
Given these historical facts documented by the settlers themselves- that is, true history in contradiction to the nonsense of The 1619 Project, there was no celebration or re-enactment of these events this year and it had nothing to do with the pandemic and lockdowns. Instead, the event has turned into one of two things to the Left. First, they portray it as the start of a great racial genocide against “indigenous people,” or Indians by their original “racist” name. In 2020, AP reporters penned an article titled “400 Years On, Mayflower’s Legacy Includes Pride, Prejudice.”
The article cites a quote from one descendant (of millions) who trace their ancestry to the Mayflower:
Considering my ancestors helped incite the racial hierarchies that caused the need for these movements now, I do feel ashamed that that had to be part of history. It gets diminished by the role they played in kind of manipulating and terrorizing people of color, which trickled down to the structures we have today.
In short, the saga of the settlers has to be retrofitted because of what it was: the establishment of an English colony that became the basis for the United States of America. Pride has been replaced by guilt.
On the other hand, the Left uses the saga for their own devices describing them as “refugees” or “illegal immigrants,” then tying those terms to recent times. Of course, a country must first exist for “refugees” to immigrate to whether legally or illegally. The argument then morphs into a plea that we cannot deport illegal immigrants because the Pilgrims were, themselves, illegal immigrants. Worse, they were fleeing religious persecution. Hence, how dare we today deny Muslim immigrants and “refugees” a place in the current melting pot?
The simple fact is that they were neither refugees, nor illegal immigrants. Nor were they the perpetrators of a great genocide concocted in the houses of worship. There was no “country” to immigrate to, just a vast wilderness inhabited by the Wampanoag. As for the genocide at the hand of pathogens brought by the settlers at Plymouth, there is a period in Wampanoag history known as the “great dying” which occurred between 1616 and 1619- before anyone from the Mayflower set foot on Plymouth rock.
Scouting parties that traveled the land long before the Mayflower set sail discovered Wampanoag villages decimated by disease. While some of it may be attributed to contact with English explorers before Plymouth, it does not explain why the Narragansett tribe seemed immune. The Wampanoag numbers were depleted and weakened long before the Pilgrims arrived which explains their ultimate demise.
Historical fact has been ignored or twisted to fit the new woke narrative of a major event in American history. This past year, the events were cancelled which is recent Leftist strategy writ smaller: the cancellation of American history. Instead of celebrating the event, it is today used as an exercise to air grievances in the distant past and an excuse to advance a bizarre, twisted rendition of history. The mere fact the Wampanoag and the settlers entered into a peace treaty that lasted for over 40 years is indicative of the peaceful, not genocidal, intents of the settlers. Further, it was the Wampanoag in 1654 who went to war with the increasing number of settlers- a fool’s adventure considering their tribe was depleted and at odds with the Narragansett.
If you are a descendant of any settler on the Mayflower (or even Jamestown), there is nothing for which to be ashamed or feel guilt like that cited above in the quote. To feel shame or guilt would make you guilty of being ashamed of being American.