Pilgrim Expedition Begins on
by Jeff Provine
says: we're very pleased to present the twenty-sixth story from Jeff
Provine's excellent blog
This Day in
Alternate History Please note that the opinions expressed in this post
do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
On August 5th 1620,
a group of Separatists from the Church of England set sail out of
Southampton in search of a place to practice religious freedom.
They had previously left England for Amsterdam, but problems existed in
the Netherlands as well. Fears arose that the Dutch were corrupting their
children with extravagances and young people with worldly ways (many were
returning to England in pursuit of work to replenish savings spent moving
to Amsterdam). The political climate, too, became sour as war with Spain
was predicted to return.
William Bradford and other leaders decided it would be in the best
interest of the congregation to start afresh with a colony in the New
World. After considering Dutch Guiana, they negotiated with the London
Company for a land patent on a colony on the Hudson River. They could be
supported by the older colony in Southern Virginia, but not close enough
to it to be dominated politically. In July of 1620, the Pilgrims left the
Netherlands on the Speedwell and joined with the Mayflower in Southampton.
The crew of the Speedwell began to report leaks on the ship, but further
investigations proved it was sabotage by the crew in an attempt to escape
their year-long contracts. The crew was punished and several replaced
while in a brief stop in Dartmouth.
After a fair journey of 60 days marked by some illness, though no more
than to be expected, the two ships arrived at their destination in the
mouth of the Hudson River. The Speedwell Compact was signed in place of
the unfinished London charter, and John Carver chosen as governor. They
established their colony on the defensible bluffs to the south and began
relations with the nearby Lenape Algonquian Indians such as the Raritan,
Hackensack, and Manhattas. The first winter was difficult with their short
growing season, but they thanked God they had not been detained any later.
Bradford kept careful history of their first few years. They were later
joined by more colonists, and the colony thrived despite troubled trade
with the Indians (Native Americans). Further explorations mapped much of
the coast, and an English-speaking Indian named Squanto was discovered in
1624. Because his understanding of local Indian languages was mixed, the
Pilgrims did not rely on him and considered him something of an oddity.
Also in 1624, new settlers arrived at the Hudson: the Dutch. They
purchased Manhattan Island with a few trinkets (a joke well shared by the
Indians, who used the island only seasonally) and began to build New
Amsterdam. Initially, the Pilgrims received their European comrades
happily as a source for trade, but they began to suspect their influence
would ruin the settlement they had created. After much discussion,
argument, and finally threat, the Dutch would stay at New Amsterdam across
the river from the Pilgrims.
Something of a land rush began, and English and Dutch settlers poured into
the rich valley. War was inevitable, and Indian confederacies formed on
both sides. In 1637, battles broke out in the form of raids against
villages and settlements. In actions that some considered bloodthirsty,
the Pilgrims with Indian help were able to chase out the Dutch after the
newly appointed William Kieft conducted a massacre in 1638. The Dutch
regrouped under Kieft and establish a new colony with overwhelming forces
farther north in the Massachusetts Bay. Kieft would be recalled, and Peter
Stuyvesant became the governor of a productive colony.
Meanwhile, the Swedes began colonies on the Delaware River. Caught between
the two alien European powers, the English settlers became increasingly
militaristic, prepared for another eventual war. They invited more
English, which eventually overwhelmed the original Pilgrims in number and
political belief. When the Second Anglo-Dutch War broke out in the 1650s,
the colonies bloodied each other. Ten years later in the Second
Anglo-Dutch War, troops under the Duke of York conquered New Netherland
around Massachusetts. The Dutch temporarily retook the settlements in the
Third Anglo-Dutch War, but all colonies were handed to the English with
the Treaty of Westminster of 1674. The Swedish settlers were allowed to
stay as allies, though they would be gradually engulfed after the fall of
the Swedish Empire in the early eighteen century.
The colonies would grow and prosper, and rebellion would break out against
taxation in the 1770s. In New York City (as the Duke of York had renamed
the second New Amsterdam), scuffles sponsored by local Samuel Adams, a
failed businessman from New Plymouth, would spark revolution through
Hudson and even to Virginia. Much of the American Revolution would be
fought in the state of Hudson, including the great victory at Saratoga.
Because of its size, age, and economic significance, New Plymouth would
always serve as a major point of significance to the new United States of
America, such as receiving the Statue of Liberty from the French in 1876
and more infamously with terrorist attacks in 2001.
says in reality, the Speedwell developed a leak twice. Whether it was
actual sabotage has been long debated, but after two stops for repairs, the
ship was sold and the expedition reorganized. The Pilgrims began their
66-day journey late in the year and battled storms that drove them off
course to Plymouth Rock. They would begin their colony in dire straights,
surviving but rarely thriving until trouble with the Native Americans was
solved shortly after the fever-death of Squanto (whom some consider a
traitor to both the Pilgrims as well as his chief Massasoit).
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