Plymouth Colony 1620–91

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Map Code: Ax02333

After Jamestown in Virginia, Plymouth was the second successful American colony to be founded by English settlers, a group of dissident Calvinist Christian ‘pilgrims’ who wanted to create a religious community free from the yoke of the English church. The community emigrated to Leiden in Holland, but began negotiating with the Virginia Company in London for the right to establish a colony in North America. After a hazardous voyage, the first 102 settlers made landfall at Cape Cod before sailing on to ‘New Plimouth’, where in December 1620 they began to build a settlement. Barely half would survive their first harsh winter. The colony was initially established in cooperation with the local native American chiefs of the Patuxet and Wampanoag tribes, and in November 1621 the surviving settlers and their native hosts sat down together for a three-day feast of ‘Thanksgiving’. Sustained by subsistence farming, the burgeoning fur trade and steady immigration from England, the colony prospered, and by 1630 its population had grown to about 2,000. As the colonists spread inland, they formed local administrations based on the English county system, eventually reduced to three. In 1639 surveyors drew a boundary line between the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies. In 1688, Plymouth Colony was incorporated with Rhode Island, Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, and New Jersey into ‘The Dominion of New England’, but the union dissolved after the Glorious revolution in England (1688). In 1691 a new proclamation incorporated the colony into the province of Massachusetts Bay, which was later to become one of the thirteen original ‘United States’.

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