Arrival at Cape Cod
They arrived at Cape Cod in November 1620, where they first encountered the indigenous people of North America who had been living there for thousands of years. After signing the Mayflower Compact on board of the ship and exploring the coast, they continued on to Patuxet (Plymouth) to establish Plymouth Colony. Thanks to the help of the indigenous people, they ultimately managed to build a thriving colony. Because of the ‘success’ of this land annexation, hundreds of European colonists would follow in the subsequent decades. The impact colonialization had on Native American people was enormous. Either through disease, war, or cultural and religious assimilation, Native American people suffered as they attempted to work through the new realities of living on a colonised land. Today, Native communities across America, including the Wampanoag, continue to claim their heritage and practice their traditions.
The story of the Mayflower has a famous place in American history as a symbol of Early European colonisation of the future United States. It is estimated that today, some 25 million Americans are descendants of the Pilgrims and nine US presidents had ancestors who travelled across on the Mayflower, including Barack Obama. Some aspects of US culture can be traced back to the Pilgrims’ time in Leiden. Civil marriage for example, a Dutch legal ‘innovation’, lies at the very basis of the separation between church and state. And it is said that the 3rd of October (Relief of Leiden) celebrations were an inspiration for the Thanksgiving celebration.