First Thanksgiving: Farewell to Old England
The Pilgrims included in their number those forced to flee England twelve years earlier. Members of the English middle class, they had been living in Leyden, Holland where the population was nearly half immigrants. Poverty was their constant companion. Their children were forgetting English, and being rapidly assimilated into Dutch society. In deep political trouble with the English government for their religious views, for these Separatists, returning to England--where the King's agents sought them out for punishment--was not an option, and their brief stopover in their mother country was marked by political problems. Joined by additional Englishmen, the group planned to take two boats to America. With the funding of their venture in doubt and money already spent, tough decision had to be made: whether to gather onto one boat when the second sprung a leak, and, with winter storms approaching, whether to leave at all. Deciding to put their fate into the hands of God, the Pilgrims left Plymouth, England for America on September 16, 1620.