• In Search of Religious Freedom: Puritans and Pilgrims

    Imagine leaving your home and setting out for a new, largely unknown world. Imagine taking only a few clothes and tools – no toys, no books, and certainly no video games. Now imagine traveling in the belly of a small boat with 100 other people. There is no privacy and only a small pot to use as a toilet! You are seasick most of the voyage, but when you feel well enough to eat, you eat plain food, such as hard biscuits, dried fish, or unsweetened oatmeal. Welcome to life aboard the Mayflower!

    In 1620, 102 Pilgrims sailed to the New World on the Mayflower. They were seeking a place to worship God as they wanted. Most of them paid dearly for their beliefs, not surviving the first winter. 

    Fun facts of Puritans and Pilgrims- Image of Mayflower
    Fun facts of Puritans and Pilgrims- Image of Mayflower

    Fun Facts

    • The Mayflower was a merchant ship, designed to transport goods. It wasn’t really meant for passengers and was hardly comfortable. It was 90 feet long, large by the day’s standards, but very crowded.
    • The Pilgrims didn’t agree with the teachings of the Catholic Church or the Church of England. They wanted to follow the Bible’s teachings more closely. They were called Separatists and were persecuted by political and religious leaders in England.
    • The Pilgrims originally planned to sail to Virginia but their ship was blown off course. They landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts. They decided to make their own laws, called the Mayflower Compact.
    •  The Pilgrims landed in America on November 11, 1620. The trip had taken 66 days.
    • One passenger, William Butten, died on the voyage. One child, Oceanus Hopkins, was born.
    • The Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts in the winter. They were already weak and sick from the trip. Finding food and building homes was very difficult. Of the 102 passengers, only 51 survived the first winter.
    • Friendly Wampanoag Indians taught the Pilgrims how to grow corn, squash, beans, and pumpkins. Without their help, the Pilgrims probably wouldn’t have succeeded in building their colony.
    • John Carver was the first governor of the colony. He died in 1621.


    1. Privacy: to be alone or undisturbed by other people
    2. Merchant:  someone in the business of trading or selling goods
    3. Persecute:  to cause emotional or physical harm to others because of their beliefs

    Questions and Answers

    Question: What did the Pilgrims do to entertain themselves on the Mayflower?

    Answer: The Pilgrims sometimes walked above deck during calm weather, but they generally remained in the cramped quarters below. They were often sick from being tossed in the ocean’s waves and were sometimes thrown against the walls in stormy weather. They probably talked quietly or played games. John Howland, a servant to John Carver, was thrown into the sea during a storm. He grabbed a rope trailing in the water and crew pulled him aboard. Lucky thing, since more than 2 million Americans are descended from him, including George Bush, George W. Bush, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Mormon leader, Joseph Smith.

    Learn More

    Visit Scholastic for an interactive tour of the Mayflower and life in New England.


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Tobin, Declan. (2022). Puritans and Pilgrims Facts for Kids -. American History for Kids. Retrieved from https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/in-search-of-religious-freedom-puritans-and-pilgrims/

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