A pilgrim is generally someone who embarks on a religious voyage. This is also the case with the English colonists of North America who settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The big reason why did the Pilgrims leave England is to be able to live out their religious convictions. They left and went on what we may call a religious pilgrimage.
Quest for Religious Freedom
Freedom of religion, as a fundamental, is the root of the cause why did the Pilgrims leave England. They were separatists from the Anglican Church. They saw that the break from the Catholic Church which occurred in 1535 was not enough. For instance, they saw that instead of a pope, the Anglican Church substituted the king as the religious head. They, in general, saw England as having recapitulated the very corrupt order which they separated from.
Difference from the Puritans
In the most basic sense, we can say that the Puritans left England for the same reason as did the Pilgrims. The Puritans were also nonconformists and accepts only the revealed word’s authority. While both groups were seeking religious freedom, there is indeed a distinct difference between the two groups. First off, the Pilgrims were separatists. They were breaking off from the Anglican Church.
The Puritans, on the other hand, had no intentions of separating from their mother church. Only that they intend to purify the said church from within. However, when it comes to settling the new found territory, the Puritans came more prepared.
Frustrated Move to Holland and Eventual Landing in North America
North America was not the initial territory that the Pilgrims intended to move to. They initially left England in 1608 voyaging towards Holland. Finding the people in the country morally corrupt, they left heading back to England on the ship Speedwell in 1620.
Due to severe leaking on the Speedwell, all 102 of them journeyed to North America on the Mayflower. They reached what we call today as Princetown Harbor in November of the same year. They settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Challenges and their Heritage Handed Down
The Pilgrims lived a democratic society where there is equal representation and equal inheritance. You may say they were forerunners of what would be later known as democracy. They were practiced tolerance especially when dealing with the American natives. They even had friendly relations with these people for more than 40 years. Indeed, they can be considered as forerunners of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.
However, settling a new territory doesn’t come easy. The very first months living in their new home was grueling. More than half of their numbers died during that time. It is true that we all owe a debt to the pioneers of any age.