Monday, December 18, 2017

December 18th...This Day in History

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Mayflower docks at Plymouth Harbor 1620


On December 18, 1620, the British ship Mayflower docked at modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts, and its passengers prepared to begin their new settlement, Plymouth Colony.
The famous Mayflower story began in 1606, when a group of reform-minded Puritans in Nottinghamshire, England, founded their own church, separate from the state-sanctioned Church of England. Accused of treason, they were forced to leave the country and settle in the more tolerant Netherlands. After 12 years of struggling to adapt and make a decent living, the group sought financial backing from some London merchants to set up a colony in America. On September 6, 1620, 102 passengers–dubbed Pilgrims by William Bradford, a passenger who would become the first governor of Plymouth Colony–crowded on the Mayflower to begin the long, hard journey to a new life in the New World.
On November 11, 1620, the Mayflower anchored at what is now Provincetown Harbor, Cape Cod. Before going ashore, 41 male passengers–heads of families, single men and three male servants–signed the famous Mayflower Compact, agreeing to submit to a government chosen by common consent and to obey all laws made for the good of the colony. Over the next month, several small scouting groups were sent ashore to collect firewood and scout out a good place to build a settlement. Around December 10, one of these groups found a harbor they liked on the western side of Cape Cod Bay. They returned to the Mayflower to tell the other passengers, but bad weather prevented them from docking until December 18. After exploring the region, the settlers chose a cleared area previously occupied by members of a local Native American tribe, the Wampanoag. The tribe had abandoned the village several years earlier, after an outbreak of European disease. That winter of 1620-1621 was brutal, as the Pilgrims struggled to build their settlement, find food and ward off sickness. By spring, 50 of the original 102 Mayflower passengers were dead. The remaining settlers made contact with returning members of the Wampanoag tribe and in March they signed a peace treaty with a tribal chief, Massasoit. Aided by the Wampanoag, especially the English-speaking Squanto, the Pilgrims were able to plant crops–especially corn and beans–that were vital to their survival. The Mayflower and its crew left Plymouth to return to England on April 5, 1621.
Over the next several decades, more and more settlers made the trek across the Atlantic to Plymouth, which gradually grew into a prosperous shipbuilding and fishing center. In 1691, Plymouth was incorporated into the new Massachusetts Bay Association, ending its history as an independent colony.

(More Events on This Day in History)

  • American Revolution

  • 1777 States give thanks
  • Automotive

  • 1968 “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” opens in New York
  • Civil War

  • 1862 Battle of Lexington, Tennessee
  • Cold War

  • 1972 Nixon announces start of “Christmas Bombing” of North Vietnam
  • Crime

  • 1878 The death of Molly-ism
  • Disaster

  • 1982 Power plant burns in Venezuela
  • General Interest

  • 1865 Slavery abolished in America
  • 1912 Piltdown Man discovered
  • Hollywood

  • 1946 Director Steven Spielberg born
  • Literary

  • 1870 Short story writer H.H. Munro is born in Burma
  • Music

  • 1961 The Tokens earn a #1 hit with “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”
  • Old West

  • 1888 Wetherill and Mason discover Mesa Verde
  • Presidential

  • 1915 Woodrow Wilson marries Edith Bolling Galt
  • Sports

  • 1886 Ty Cobb is born
  • Vietnam War

  • 1972 Nixon orders the initiation of Operation Linebacker II
  • World War I

  • 1916 Battle of Verdun ends
  • World War II

  • 1941 Japan invades Hong Kong

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