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Digital Subscriptions > History Revealed > December 2015 > How Did They do That?

How Did They do That?

The ship that carried the Pilgrims to the New World
ILLUSTRATION: SOL 90, ALAMY X3, GETTY X1

THE MAYFLOWER

On 16 September 1620, a merchant ship, the Mayflower, sailed from England, bound for the New World. On board were 102 men, women and children, half of whom (the ‘Saints’, or ‘Pilgrims’ as they are known today) were escaping religious persecution, while the other half (the ‘Strangers’) were seeking adventure and a new life across the Atlantic.

16 SEPTEMBER 1620 The Mayflower sailed from Plymouth, England

The mission to create a settlement in the Virginia territory, however, was almost a disaster. A second ship, the Speedwell, was meant to join the voyage, but it was unseaworthy so the passengers were crammed into the Mayflower. Then, terrible storms and high waves made the crossing miserable. The Mayflower finally limped into view of the New World after 66 days. The Pilgrims had made it, but – as they quickly found out – their troubles were only beginning.

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