Religious persecution has always been and will always be. Some of the earliest forms of it took place in the 1600s when the Pilgrims left England to escape it. However, not only did the Pilgrims come to America to escape religious persecution but they also came for the same reason that millions of others have done since then. They came to find refuge. America has always represented freedom and so not only was it their desire to seek freedom for religion but freedom in every sense of the word.
The Pilgrims were early Protestant settlers who were forced to practice their beliefs in secrecy. England considered them to be a threat to the church and to the monarchy. The Pilgrims had a different interpretation of the Bible than the State Church of England. In fact, the State Church of England's interpretations were never to be questioned or strayed from. Doing so could result in a penalty, ranging from a fine to death.
The State Church practiced a variety of ceremonies, whereas the Pilgrims believed in a more simple form of worship. They knew that it would only be a matter of time before their differences would severely clash. Before coming to America, the Pilgrims first escaped to Holland. The lifestyle of the Dutch, however, proved to be a threat to their children's moral, religious and educational beliefs. So on a second voyage, the Pilgrims set sail on a ship called the Mayflower. Their destination was America, or as they knew it the "New World."
The Pilgrims arrived to America in 1620. Unfortunately, only about half of the settlers would live through that first winter. But those that survived finally found the religious freedom they had only dreamed of.
America - Freedom
America has also represented freedom. It is a place that refugees from all over the world have come. Coming to America would become more than just escaping religious persecution. It would also be a place where there is freedom from oppression. It represented a land of opportunity. It was seen to many as the "Promised Land."
The Pilgrims found a place of safety and refuge and from their settlement, birthed forth a country that today has come what it is now known as, a melting pot. America is a melting pot of creative and innovative people who are of different religions, races and nationalities.
Behind our romantic view of the first Thanksgiving lies a history of hardship, suspicion and disagreement. Find out what the first months in the New World were really like for the pilgrims.
What do you know about the first Thanksgiving? You'll find some interesting details among these facts about pilgrims.