Here is part 2 of the Thanksgiving story. If you didn't see part one, you can find it with my other articles by clicking my name at the top of the page. Then look next week for the next part!
One of my favorite stories from the trip on the Mayflower I will quote directly from William Bradford: "I must not omit to mention here especially example of God's providence. There was an insolent and very profane young man, – one of the sailors, which made him the more overbearing, – who was always harassing the poor people in their sickness, and cursing them daily with grievous execrations (a curse or swear word), and did not hesitate to tell them that he hoped to help throw half of them overboard before they came to their journey’s end. If he were greatly reproved by anyone, he would curse and swear more bitterly. But it pleased God, before they came half seas over, to smite the young man with a grievous disease, of which he died in a desperate manner, and so was himself the first to be thrown overboard. Thus his curses fell upon his own head, which astonished all his mates from a solid was the just hand of God upon him."
One of the books I have read says the sailor called the Pilgrims “Psalm singing, puke stockings”. After the Separatists prayed that God would help them with the torment from the man and he died, the book said that there was “no more making fun of the Separatists.”
There were many hardships on the Mayflower. There were many storms. During one storm, giant waves tossed the Mayflower from side to side; the ship rolled so far over on her side the passengers feared she might lose her cargo. Another time a cross beam that supported the main mast cracked. Having no power of their own to fix this problem, the pilgrims did the only thing they could do – they prayed. William Brewster, the Pilgrims Pastor, had brought along his printing press; the printing press had a great iron screw that was used to press type the letters onto pages of paper. Eventually, the men found the press, cranked the screw up, and lifted the beam back into place.
During the storm, the Pilgrims were told to go below deck and were not allowed to go up. This meant there was no way to get any fresh air, no way to empty waste buckets – just try to imagine 102 people being cramped into a space that small (the size of a volleyball court and only about 4 ½ feet tall).
A passenger named John Howland decided to climb up and go on to the main deck - after being told not to. Who wouldn’t after so long below deck with no fresh air, sea-sick passengers, and no way to toss the waste buckets, gross! When he went up he found out why they had been told to stay below deck. Violent winds shrieked and tore the masts and sails. Stormy, black clouds filled the sky. Huge waves pitched the small ship from side to side and huge raindrops beat the deck. In the torrent of the storm, Howland fell overboard into the icy ocean. But God still had plans for Howland. As he reached out, a line from one of the ships masts happened to be trailing in the water (I don’t think this was just by chance) and he was able to hold on to that until he was pulled back on the boat. I have read that this time of year in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean that in 2 minutes hypothermia would set in. Howland should have drowned or froze to death that day, but God had a purpose for these people He had called and He wasn’t finished with them yet. When you begin to look at the life of John Howland you see why God wasn’t done. Once in Plymouth he married a young lady and had 10 children. He has descendants that are still making a difference today in our world – one of them is George W Bush.
On November 11, 1620, the Mayflower dropped anchor at Cape Cod. But there was a problem: this was not where the charter from England had sent them. If the Pilgrims settled here, they would no longer be under the authority of the charter; this would leave them under the authority of no one. I don't believe this was an accident. On the afternoon of November 11, 1620, the pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact. This was the first time that free and equal men had ever entered into a covenant to create a new society, based on biblical principles. Two important principles, that eventually became the cornerstones of America's constitutional government, were written in this compact: 1 - that all men are created equal in the sight of God and 2 - that a government must only govern people who agree to submit to it.
Here is a copy of the Mayflower Compact (pay attention to the underlined parts):
In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereigne Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britaine, France and Ireland king, defender of the faith, etc. having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honour of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northerne parts of Virginia, doe by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civill body politick, for our better ordering and preservation, and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enacte, constitute, and frame such just and equall laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meete and convenient for the generall good of the Colonie unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape-Codd the 11. of November, in the year of the raigne of our sovereigne lord, King James, of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fiftie-fourth. Anno Dom. 1620.
Men, under the charge of Capt. Myles Standish, began going ashore to explore the land. However, no place here could be found that would be suitable for a settlement. There was also an Indian attack while they were searching the land; no Pilgrim was injured but coats that were hanging on trees were torn through. It was decided that the group must move to a better location.
Sometime during this time, while William Bradford was exploring the land, his wife, Dorothy Bradford, fell overboard and died. Some have said that the fall wasn’t an accident; that Dorothy had all that she could. She had left her infant son in England with plans to get him after they had settled the land, and now having to get back on the boat for more travel. Dorothy’s death is never mentioned in the journals of William Bradford. We know about her death from the records of others.
Eventually, the Pilgrims found land the land that is called Plymouth - after Plymouth, England. As they began to explore they found soil that was rich and fertile, four creeks with sweet, fresh water (one of the writings said the water was so sweet they didn’t even care that they had run out of beer), and 20 acres of land that had already been cleared. This was an ideal place to build a settlement. I believe God had the land ready for these men and women – it was November and the cold had already hit. The Pilgrims needed to move as quickly as they could in order to have any hope of surviving the fast approaching winter.
To be continued.....