THE PILGRIMS FROM A TO Z
A fact about the Pilgrims for each letter of the alphabet
Click on highlighted words for more information
AMERICA was named after Amerigo Vespucci an Italian who explored the New World several years after Christopher Columbus. New information indicates the country might have been named after Richard Ameryk an aristocratic merchant living in Bristol at the end of the 15th century.
B IS FOR BIBLE
The Pilgrims believed that the BIBLE was the true law of God and preferred the Geneva version over the revised King James version. The Pilgrims did not celebrate any religous holidays but they were very strict in observing the Sabbath from sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday. Bible reading was emphasized in their worship.
C IS FOR COLONY
The Pilgrims established a COLONY at Plymouth on land that belonged to the Patuxet Indians who had all died from a disease 4 years earlier. As more settlers came to America new towns were built and the colony expanded. Plymouth Colony remained independent until 1691 when it became part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony
E IS FOR EDUCATION
The Pilgrims believed everyone had the right to an EDUCATION. Children were taught their ABC's, simple arithemetic, how to write their name, and to read the bible. The first schools in America were established and supported by religous groups. By 1650 colonies with at least fifty families were required to provide an elementary school for reading and writing.
F IS FOR FORT
The Pilgrims built a FORT on a hill overlooking Plymouth Harbor. The hill had a graveyard and is known as Burial Hill. It is one of the oldest cemeteries in the country. The fort had one large room with thick walls and a flat roof where a cannon was mounted. From the fort, a sentry stood guard over the colony and watched for ships bringing supplies and more settlers. For many years the fort was used as a meetinghouse, court of justice, and jail.
G IS FOR GOVERNMENT
The Pilgrims were given the right to form a GOVERNMENT in America as long as it was not against the laws of England. When they reached America, they realized that there would not be any government to tell them what to do. Before anyone set foot on shore, a document was drawn up that said everyone would receive fair treatment in the colony. This document is called the Mayflower Compact and most of the men aboard the ship signed it. A meeting was held every year to elect the governor his assistants, make laws, and levy taxes. No church officer held a political position and no political officer held a church position. Plymouth remained the center of government as the colony expanded.
H IS FOR HOUSE
The first HOUSE the Pilgrims built in America was a Common House that was used to store food and provisions. During the first winter in America, it also served as a hospital. The Pilgrims used logs and sticks to make walls. Sand, clay, water and straw were mixed together to cover the walls, and the roof was made of reeds and wild grasses. Within a year after landing in America, the Pilgrims had built seven houses and four other buildings.
I IS FOR INDIANS
A few months after the Pilgrims arrived in America they were befriended by two INDIANS who spoke English. The Indians arranged a meeting between the Pilgrims and Chief Massasoit of the Wampanoag tribe. An agreement was made to help and protect each other. One of the Indians, Squanto, stayed with the Pilgrims and taught them how to fish, plant corn, and served as their guide when they explored the coast.
J IS FOR JANUARY
When the Pilgrims came to America, they followed the Old Style calendar and a new year began in March. When they changed to the new style calendar, the Pilgrims did not call JANURY by that name because the name came from the old Roman god Janus and they thought it was wrong to honor a pagan god. Instead they spoke of January as "First Month".
K IS FOR KING
The KING of England wanted everyone to belong to the Church of England. The Pilgrims acknowledged the king as their ruler but wanted to be able to worship in their own way and separated from the church. The king did not want them to do this and made life difficult for them so in 1608 they moved to Holland. The Pilgrims still wanted to be part of England, however, and after they had live in Holland for twelve years the king gave them permission to establish an English colony in America.
L IS FOR LAND
The Pilgrims were given a grant of LAND in America. They worked the land together and put the harvest into a community store. After two years, the land was divided among the families and each family kept what they grew and paid a tax to maintain fishermen and others of the colony. Settlers who arrived later were given land on which they paid rent of a bushel of corn a year.
M IS FOR MAYFLOWER
The MAYFLOWER was the ship that brought the Pilgrims to America. It was a three-masted, double-decked sailing ship and carried 102 passengers plus a captain and crew. During the first winter in America, the Mayflower served as The Headquarters for the Pilgrims. The following spring the ship sailed back to England.
N IS FOR NEW ENGLAND
In 1614 Captain John Smith, an Englishman, explored the northern coast of America and named it NEW ENGLAND. Soon after the Pilgrims arrived in America the New England Council was formed and granted a patent which legalized the Plymouth Colony. In 1643 the New England Confederation was formed for the mutual safety and welfare of Plymouth and three other colonies.
O IS FOR OLDCOMERS
The people who came to America on the Mayflower called themselves OLDCOMERS. Those who had separated from the Church of England were known as Saints and the others were known as Strangers. They came to be known as Pilgrims owing to a passage written in journal by William Bradford who was governor of Plymouth Colony for nearly 30 years. Settlers who arrived later were known as Newcomers.
P IS FOR PURITANS
The PURITANS were a group of people within the Church of England who wanted to keep the church pure and simple. Some of the Pilgrims had belonged to this group before leaving England. Ten years after the Pilgrims came to America large groups of Puritans started arriving and settled north of Plymouth Colony.
Q IS FOR QUAKE
The first recorded QUAKE in the country was at Plymouth Colony in June 1638. The Pilgrims heard a rumbling noise come from the north and the earth began to quake. Pilgrims who were outside had to hold on to something to keep from falling down and things inside their homes fell from shelves. For several years after that, the weather was colder than usual and corn and other crops did not ripen well.
R IS FOR ROCK
Plymouth ROCK is believed to be the spot where a party of Pilgrims from the Mayflower first stepped on land when they reached America. The rock was moved several times and is now in Plymouth Harbor. For the 300th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims, a granite canopy resembling Greek temple was built over the rock.
S IS FOR SHALLOP
The Pilgrims brought with them a small open boat with oars and sails called a SHALLOP. It was stored on the main deck of the Mayflower and was damaged during the voyage. While the shallop was being repaired the Pilgrims used one of the longboats from the Mayflower to go ashore. For many years the Pilgrims used the shallop to fish and explore the coast.
T IS FOR THANKSGIVING
A year after the Pilgrims landed in America the governor proclaimed a day of THANKSGIVING because everyone was in good health and there had been a successful harvest. Chief Massasoit was invited and he brought many braves. The celebration lasted three days with games and feasting. The Pilgrims held a day of thanksgiving every year after that.
U IS FOR UNIVERSITY
Harvard UNIVERSITY was founded 16 years after the Pilgrims landed in America. It was the first institute of higher learning to be established in America. The University was named after John Harvard a Puritan minister. About half of the earlier graduates studied for the ministery and nearly all of them performed some kind of public service.
V IS FOR VOYAGE
The VOYAGE of the Pilgrims to America took 65 days. It was a bad time of year to be crossing the Atlantic Ocean and there were fierce storms. During the voyage, many people were sick,one person died, and a baby was born. The main staff of the ship broke and was repaired with a great iron screw that the Pilgrims had brought with them for a printing press.
W IS FOR WAMPUM
The pilgrims used WAMPUM to trade with the Indians and for many years wampum was the currency for the colony. Wampum beads were made from the purple and white parts of shells. Indians used wampum beads to decorate their clothes and keep records.
X IS FOR XMAS
XMAS is a common abreviation for the word Christmas. The Pilgrims did not celebrate Christmas because they could not find the exact date of the Nativity mentioned in the bible. They accepted the historic meaning of Christmas, but felt that the revelry surrounding it interferred with religous devotion. For many years anyone in New England who observed Christmas was fined.
Z IS FOR ZION
The Pilgrims wanted to find a ZION - a promised land. When they left England, they were looking for a place where they could worship as they chose. The pilgrims found their Zion in America. Although they never dominated the colonies, the Pilgrims became a symbol of faith and courage to many who followed them. There are many Memorials to Pilgrims.