I was doing a little bit of research to augment my knowledge of our favorite residents of Plymouth Rock and I found out something that I found fascinating. They thought the Puritans were too liberal. What kind of person looks at a Puritan and thinks they are not taking the whole holy thing far enough. Anyway let me break down a little bit on these intrepid settlers.
So they came from England by way of Holland. They did not like Church of England and England did not like them back. They believed that all religious belief should be based purely on scripture and both Anglicans and Catholics relied too heavily on church traditions not based on anything in the Bible. This was not an odd belief at the time; Calvin had stirred up the religious folk and this particular idea was fairly common. Anyway, as you can imagine, English authorities were not very fond of these strange people in weird hats telling them how to do their church thing and the Pilgrims had to move. They went to Holland because that area of the world was ripe with the new Protestant sects. At that time, if you pissed off a state church you went to the land of tulips and windmills. Anyway, even here the Pilgrims had persecution issues so they decided to become really really separatist and loaded up a boat for the new world.(A tiny bit of irony here is that they were backed by an English Company. They disliked them enough to want to get away from them but not enough not to take their money.)
We know a lot about the ideas of the pilgrims from the writings of William Bradshaw, one of the leaders of their merry band. The pilgrims saw themselves as a holy experiment. Elementary school teaches us to believe all they wanted was a home to practice their faith in peace and find religious freedom. They were looking for a place to practice their faith but mostly because they felt like the rest of the known world was too heathen-y for them and wanted nothing to do with them. As far as religious freedom, they wanted freedom to be a Pilgrim but did not want anyone else to be anything else but a Pilgrim. In essence, the Pilgrims were jerk faces.
Anyway, they get to the New World and set up their little settlement and begin to be holy. They promptly begin to judge the natives who are there and try to live like they did in Europe. They fail miserably. It is not that they struggle, they damn near cease to exist. Shockingly enough, things don’t work in America like they do in Europe. The Native Americans take pity on these ignorant people and teach them how to live. During the harvest, they have a feast together and then play football and that is where we get Thanksgiving.
I believe firmly in the holiday. I believe we should take time to stop and appreciate what we have. Life gets too hectic to be appreciative all the time. I just like the Pilgrims better the way they really were not how we are taught when we make turkey crafts using cut-outs of our traced hands.
One thing that we did learn in elementary school that holds true is that they did bring a form of democracy with them. The Mayflower Compact did indeed outline a semi-democratic government and that ideal still stays with us today. For that, I am thankful.