The Separatists were a group of people who separated from the Church of England and made their own church, the Separatist Church of Scrooby, with help from William Brewster. The questions we answered were, What are the factors that can convince people to take a great risk, even if that risk is not guaranteed to succeed? And were the risks taken by the Separatists worth it? It is important to answer these questions as we study history so that we know what the land of America was like when Separatists settled here and what the overseas trip was like and how they survived the first winter in Plimouth. The activities we did in class to answer these questions were analyzing primary source letters written by John Smith and William Hilton and answering questions to fully understand the lives of Separatists. We also watched a video that explored deeper the lives of the Separatists. The Separatists took many risks without knowing the consequences.
The Separatists went through a lot of trouble before getting to the new land of America. In England, the King made it very difficult to live, so they took the risk of moving to a new colony. The Separatists' main problem with the Church of England was that they wanted to separate from the church because they thought the church was too involved with other things. They tried to live in other cities, but they found it difficult to be true to their beliefs so they had to go somewhere new and start fresh. So they decided to cross the Atlantic and go to America to settle. A letter from John Smith made the impression on them that America was a good place to start a new and permanent colony. But was starting a new life in America worth the harsh trip across the Atalntic Ocean on the Mayflower? Thirty men worked on the deck while Pilgrims below the deck struggle for fresh air while they emptied their chamber pots. Halfway to America, a storm hit and the ship started to leak and a main beam cracked! These leaks and cracked beams were eventually fixed. Due to this storm, the ship was blown off course and headed north of where they expected to land in Virginia. They finally came to the shore in Massachesetts in November, 1620. As winter came, they moved to Plimoth to settle there. The first winter in the New World may have been worse than their trip acorss the ocean in the Mayflower. Exposure, malnutrition and illness led to half of the crew and passengers dying. Then throughout the winter 40 more died, leaving seven men healthy enough to help the sick. And two later fires still didn't stop these settlers, and eventually they built their new settlement with six cannons for defense. Later that winter, the Pilgrims met the Native Americans, and their relationships started.
Although there were many tragedies that happened to the Separatists, there were many benefits to settling in the New World. A letter from John Smith attracted people to come settle with him. Describing America in the letter, John Smith said, "the Masters by this may quickly grow rich; these may learn their trades themselves, to do the like to a general and an incredible benefit, for King, and Country, Master, and Servant...". He implied that when masters take ten or twenty young settlers(with little family), they can learn and quickly grow rich. They will also learn to trade and this will all help the King, England, masters and servants and everyone will benefit. When the Mayflower Compact was being written, they decided to work together to make laws for everyone to follow, and these laws will be for the good of the people. They will also elect one person from time to time to run the government they set up. The Compact states, "Solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic...; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, offices from time to time as shall be though more meet and convenient for the general good of the colony...". The biggest benefit was shown in America after the first winter. William Hilton wrote a letter home describing Plimouth, "The Indians round us peaceable and friendly; the country very pleasant and temperate, yeilding naturally, of itself, great store of fruits...and great flocks of turkeys, quails, pigeons and partridges; many great lakes abounding with fish, fowl, beavers, and otters. The sea affords us great plenty of all excellent sorts of fish...". This is saying that the Indians were friendly and peaceful, the weather was good and the country was green and plentiful. Fruits grew naturally and many wild animals wandered the woods of trees, and lakes were stocked with an abundance of fish. Hilton made it seem like America was an amazing place for his family and others to settle.
The questions we answered about the Separtists were, what are the factors that can convince people to take a great risk, even if that risk is not guaranteed to succeed? Also, were the risks taken by the Separatists worth it? The factors that can convince people to take a great risk are other people making somehting hard for them (in this case the King), or that their beliefs or ways of living don't follow the rest of the country or place in which they live. The King made it very hard for the Separtists to live their becasue of their beliefs, so they took the risk in setting in the New World. The risks taken by the Separtits were definately worth it. Even if many died on the way to their new life, settling in America created a new life for those Pilgrims as well as their families and many more. The trip on the Mayflower was terrible, but it was all worth it by the following Spring when John Smith wrote the letter home about Plimouth and how amazing it is with all the benefits they have. Taking risks is important, as Einstein says “A ship is always safe at the shore - but that is NOT what it is built for.” (Albert Einstein).
The First Winter in Plymouth- http://web.ccsd.k12.wy.us/techcurr/Social%20Studies/05/0101firstwi.html