Week 3: The Pilgrims Land in Plymouth, 1620 POST DUE: MONDAY, SEPT. 20 (by noon)


Thank you for your insightful comments to last week’s readings and documentaries.  Mohammed, Karina, and others commented on the extraordinary amount of bloodshed and destruction following the “discovery” of America by Cristopher Columbus while appreciating that there were Spaniards such as De Las Casas who were disgusted by these atrocities and spoke out (the beginning of “reformist” writing in American Literature). At the same time, Sumaya pointed out the gorgeous imagery of Columbus’s letter in his description of Cuba.  She quotes the line: ”There are wonderful pine woods and very extensive ranges of meadowland. There is honey, and there are many kinds of birds and a great variety of fruits. Inland there are numerous mines of metals and innumerable people.” It’s important to keep in mind that Columbus—despite his now largely negative reputation—was a highly educated, “Renaissance Man” as his highly skilled writing shows (a point reiterated by Harood). Let’s also keep in mind, as Mehreen, Ulises, and other students discuss, that there were indeed “innumerable” people that Columbus encountered (estimates go as high as 150 million Native Americans from thousands of different tribes). Each tribe possessed rich cultures, highly evolved political systems, and – despite what the Spaniards thought—remarkable, intriguing religious beliefs of their own. Enson makes the cool observation (from Columbus) that “some of their canoes had seventy and eighty men in them, and each had an oar.” Quite a canoe!!!  Let’s also not forget about the Dutch origins of Mannahatta (NYC) where the great tribe of Lenape peoples lived and flourished.  Our first poet is in fact the Dutch Jacob Steendam, author of “In Praise of New Netherland.” As Terri-Ann astutely writes of this celebratory piece, “You instantly hear his bemoaning and sadness for anyone who has not had the grand opportunity to experience or live in NY: “you poor, who know not how your living to obtain.”  NYC from the start has been an island of great dreams and ambitions.

This week, we will continue to investigate the fate of Indigenous peoples subsequent to European “contact.”  Some 150 years after Columbus “discovered” the Caribbean Basin (in 1492), the Pilgrims from England landed on Plymouth Rock (in Massachusetts) in November of 1620, looking to practice their own “purified” version of Christianity.  They did not encounter “innumerable” Native Americans (many of whom had already died from European illnesses) but did discover an English-speaking Wampanoag native named Squanto, who helped them survive that first brutal winter. 

In your readings and viewings, I ask you to delve into our New England history and think about who the Pilgrims were, what they sought in coming to America, as well as their views and understandings of the Native Americans they encountered.  The date 1620 (like 1492) is important as a founding moment in American History (and why we celebrate Thanksgiving!).  Next week, we will see how this date is now importantly connected to the year 1619 – the year African slaves were first brought to the colony of Virginia.

Here is your assignment for this week:

  1. Read about how Mexico is dealing with the history and legacy of Christopher Columbus in the recent article Mexico City to Replace Columbus Statue
  2. View: The Pilgrims (chapter 1) and The First Thanksgiving
  3. Read excerpts from the History of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford Of Plymouth Plantation (1650)
  4. Review the Website Our Story: 400 Years of Wampanoag History and watch the opening video (“1614: Captured” which tells the story of how Squanto was Kidnapped and brought to England)
  5. Post a response to one of the following questions (with support from your readings/viewings): 1. How does the Pilgrim story connect to more recent immigrant stories? 2.  How did the Pilgrims see their settlement of America in relation to God?  2.  Based on your readings, do you feel we should celebrate Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s day? 3. Will you be celebrating Thanksgiving this year?  Why or why not?  OR 4. Respond to a key theme, passage, or scene from one of the readings (or videos) that spoke to you. TO POST BE SURE TO CLICK ON THE “COMMENTS” ICON ABOVE (THEN POST COMMENT UNDER “LEAVE A REPLY”)


  1. Mohammed Islam

    2. How did the Pilgrims see their settlement of America in relation to God?

    The Pilgrims believed everything happened the way it did because of God. The saw it as a gift from God. From the excerpts from “Of Plymouth Plantation” by William Bradford, he mentions God quite a few times. When a man from the ship who was foul to the poor people became sick with a disease and died, he said God was doing justice by killing him because of the way he was treating other people. They believed God was doing things to help them and benefit them. God in their eyes was the number one thing keeping them alive. In the excerpts he says “And here is to be noted a special providence of God, and a great mercy to this poor people, that here they got seed to plant them corn the next year, or else they might have starved, for they had none nor any likelihood to get any till the season had been past, as the sequel did manifest.” They stole the corn and took it back for themselves and believed God led them to this and God gave them a way to feed themselves for the future. The Pilgrims believed God brought them safely to America and helped them survive. I think they believed these were gifts from God.

    • Mark Noonan

      Excellent post Mohammed. Your opening line says it all: “The Pilgrims believed everything happened the way it did because of God.” You also use good examples examples and quotes. You might want to examine the line about “finding corn” and crediting God a bit more however. It was the Native Americans who planted this corn and buried the seeds. Perhaps the Pilgrims should have also thanked them (!)

  2. Brian Chan

    4. Respond to a key theme, passage, or scene from one of the readings (or videos) that spoke to you

    Reading: From Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford

    One of the key themes in the Pilgrim Story that spoke to me is the strength in believing. One example is when the reading mentions, “bowed and cracked, which put them in some fear that the ship could not be able to perform the voyage.” Later on in the reading we see that the ship is deemed repairable and is fixed instead of being given up on. This example shows how fear can be looked past while believing in a solution. Another way the story speaks the key theme is the mention of God. In many religions, God is often a symbol of hope, righteousness, and salvation. While there are some who believe God doesn’t exist, there are many who believe he exists. This shows how even though we are capable of believing things/beings even when we may not see see or hear them. With that being said, if you believe hard enough, goals and dreams can sometimes come true.

    • Mark Noonan

      You certainly capture the key component of the Pilgrims: their unyielding faith in God. This indeed gave them the strength and courage to succeed in coming to a difficult new situation. Keep an eye though on how this “blind faith” also might have misled their thinking (and actions): particularly about the Native Americans who they thought were in league with the devil.

  3. Enson Zhou

    3. Will you be celebrating Thanksgiving this year? Why or why not?

    I will be celebrating Thanksgiving this year and I feel like everyone should celebrate thanksgiving not only this year but every year. Thanksgiving as we define it is a time where people come together and express gratitude towards one another. But back in the day thanksgiving was not just having a family feast and expressing gratitude. The story of Thanksgiving is one to remember because in “The First Thanksgiving Video the narrator says” the story of thanksgiving is about alliance, abundance, and envisioning a future where Native Americans and colonial Americans come together and celebrate the provinces of a single god.” This really stood out to me because no matter what their differences were they still believed that they would find unity. I think Thanksgiving should be celebrated by everyone every ever because not only is it a time to express gratitude but to also have a chance to unite no matter the differences.

    • Enson Zhou

      Typo on last sentence should be every year not every ever. Sorry

    • Mark Noonan

      I like how you draw from the video to further explain the true meaning of the first Thanksgiving and why we need to celebrate it today. Certainly at the start, the day celebrated peoples working together and setting aside their differences.

  4. Zarif

    2. The Pilgrims saw their settlement of America in relation to God, thanking him for everything. They believed that everything that was happening was because of God. That different things were occurring, like having the seeds to plant corn or else thy would have starve in the next year. How they would have a day of terror and stress and how God would bless them with a better day of sunlight and joy.

    • Mark Noonan

      You make a good observation here, Zarif, but what were the limits of this “blind” faith? How, for example, did they treat the Native Americans (from whom they stole the corn)?

    • sumayah

      I found that very interesting, they connected everything to god.

  5. Nelson Estrella II

    4. Respond to a key theme, passage, or scene from one of the readings (or videos) that spoke to you.
    A key theme from the passage “From Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford” a key theme I noticed from this reading was how much the pilgrims believe in the power of god. While reading this story, you will begin to realize that Bradford mentions God multiple times through the reading and mentions god in the way that as long as they believe in him they will get there safely. In paragraph 3 the ship that they are on is battling harsh weather which causes the ship to leak, while the crew is coming up with a plan to fix it they state “So they committed themselves to the will of God, and resolved to proceed”. Throughout the reading any problem the may have faced they came to god first then would go on to confront the issue in-front of them.

    • Mark Noonan

      Great observation, Nelson, about the Pilgrim’s strong faith in God. But where does this fail them? Are they sometimes too harsh with those that don’t believe what they believe? What would America be like today if they were still in charge?

  6. Brianna

    3. Will you be celebrating Thanksgiving this year? Why or why not?

    I will be celebrating Thanksgiving this year. Its a day where my family and I come together, cook, and acknowledge what we are thankful for. In the video “The First Thanksgiving” it says that “Thanksgiving is about alliance, and abundance ” that stood out to me because on that day families just like the pilgrims in the video put their differences aside to come together and look back at all they’ve been through months prior.

    • Mark Noonan

      Excellent to hear that you will be celebrating Thanksgiving for all the right reasons this year, Brianna. However, isn’t it also worth considering the horrible violence against the Native Americans subsequent to their helping the Pilgrims get through that first difficult winter in 1621?

  7. Karina

    4. Respond to a key theme, passage, or scene from one of the readings (or videos) that spoke to you.

    A scene from the videos (Captured: 1614, and the First Thanksgiving) that really captured my attention was when the colonial Americans and Native Americans huddled up to celebrate together. This demonstrated that despite there were many losses especially from the Native Americans, this did not stop them from helping the Pilgrims (Colonial Americans) in adapting to the land and helping them gather food. Squanto was captured to be enslaved however he managed to escape. Many people would have resentment and hate towards those that this to them, however it came to a point in which they set this aside in order to create an alliance, abundance and envision a future in which they (Pilgrims and Native Americans) can live together in peace.

    • Mark Noonan

      You make a great point about how Squanto forgave his original English captors and still helped out the Pilgrims (putting aside his differences and certain anger). At the same time, how did the English subsequently treat the Native Americans who initially welcomed them?

  8. majoguadua

    To my understanding, The Pilgrims was a group of English people who came to America seeking religious freedom during the reign of King James I. Is very easy to see where the connection is, just by reading the word “freedom”.
    Most of the people that become immigrants have the idea of freedom as a “dream” or goal or life purpose that unfortunately, they don’t have in the place they were born.
    When we say freedom we can be talking about; physical freedom, or economic freedom, or religious freedom. There are many more but I am going to mention just these. It is not a secret that America has been the country where most of the population of the world come to find “freedom”, “shelter”, “protection”. When I think about this the first thought that comes to my mind is that no Country should be in charge of the freedom of anyone. I hope every human being of this world, the society, the governments, us as a species become so mentally mature, with an elevated consciousness, so that every place in the world would represent and be what America is today for the rest of the world.

    I do like to celebrate Thanksgiving, I think is pretty clever to have a whole nation vibrating with thankful energy in one day.

    There was a part in the video that stood out to me ” These were normal people under extraordinary circumstances, and they were making it up as they went along. And it ends up being as much as a story of survival, as it is a story of origins”.

    This text represents to me what being an immigrant feels like.

    • Mark Noonan

      You do a fine job here discussing the value of “physical freedom, economic freedom, and religious freedom” and how America has long been a beacon of these freedoms. I also like how you connect the theme of “survival” of this immigrant story to those of other immigrants who overcame enormous obstacles to be “free.”

  9. Amina Shabbir

    4. Respond to a key theme, passage, or scene from one of the readings (or videos) that spoke to you.

    I think a key theme of “From Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford” was to inform readers of the trials that the immigrants faced on their way to the new land, and how they persevered and stayed strong. The divine providence of God is a prominent subject in this reading. As Bradford said, “Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element.” This illustrates Bradford’s belief that God decides everything that happens to the pilgrims and every event that occurs as a result of it. Even when faced with uncertainty and death, Bradford believed that God was taking care of all of his children. Besides recognizing their ancestors’ struggles, Bradford wanted future Plymouth inhabitants to realize that their struggles were not sustained solely by their own power; rather, God had supplied the strength and aid they needed to survive every battle. As a result, he detailed a number of occasions in which he felt God had helped them.

    • Mark Noonan

      This is a thorough discussion of what made the Pilgrim’s journey to America really stand out: their faith how, as you write, “they persevered and stayed strong”

  10. Mehreen Khanom

    3. Will you be celebrating Thanksgiving this year? Why or why not?

    I and my family don’t celebrate Thanksgiving every year, most of the time we do. But I will participate in celebrating Thanksgiving this year because there are so many things to be thankful for in life that sometimes we forget to admire the positive side and be thankful for everything and everyone around us. Watching “The First Thanksgiving” made me realize Thanksgiving isn’t just about being thankful but also value and prioritize the things we lost. Towards the end of the video, the women state “We don’t think about the lost, we think about the abundance”, the way I see it is the lost braught the abundance.

    • Mark Noonan

      Certainly, America is the land of “abundance,” as you write, which we all need to be thankful for. I also like your point about how we need to “value and prioritize the things we lost” — especially during this difficult pandemic.

  11. Paulina Vega

    4. Respond to a key theme, passage, or scene from one of the readings (or videos) that spoke to you.

    The Passage that stood out to me was “Mexico City to Replace Columbus Statue With Indigenous Woman Monument” because the passage clearly shows how upset people are with the statue of the explorer Christopher Columbus being up and wanting to be taken down. And why is that? They believe that Christopher Columbus was a killer and that his statue doesn’t deserve to be up. Instead they want people to place a statue dedicated to the Indigenous woman. All this stood out to me because they are strongly fighting for the statue of the explorer Christopher Columbus to be put down and are trying to do anything in their power to do so. They are fighting for what they believe is right to do and what they believe in.

    • Mark Noonan

      You make excellent points, Paulina, about the rightful anger Mexicans have about the damage caused Indigenous peoples subsequent to Columbus’ discovery. It’s also interesting that the new statue will be one of a woman.

    • sumayah

      very beautiful! I love your response.

  12. haroodg

    Based on your readings, do you feel we should celebrate Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s Day?

    Read: Our Story: 400 Years of Wampanoag History

    No, I do not believe that we should celebrate Columbus Day anymore but instead celebrate Indigenous People’s Day. We should not forget Columbus Day because of its historical significance, but we should reconsider it due to the actions that took place during Columbus’ lifetime. Moreover, Wampanoag history is so important that it would be unjust not to recognize it properly. According to the reading “They are the tribe first encountered by the Mayflower Pilgrims when they landed in Provincetown harbor”. They traded, taught, and sheltered the first pilgrims giving them the necessary skills to survive the harsh American landscape and seasons. Without the Wampanoag people, many of the already suffering pilgrims might have died sooner than expected. Even after all of their kindness “In 1614, a European explorer kidnapped twenty Wampanoag men from Patuxet.” We should not celebrate a day where Columbus’s “discovery” of America led to the decimation of many native people by his ancestors. Native Americans should be celebrated and recognized for their strength, ingenuity, and everything they endured under such difficult conditions. They were here long before any settlers ever arrived. The way they lived, told stories they told and gods they believed in should be recognized as true American culture and kept in the mind of all the people that live here.

    • haroodg

      *They were here long before any settlers ever arrived. The way they lived, told stories, and prayed to the gods that they believed in should be recognized as true American culture and kept in the minds of all the people that live here.*

    • Mark Noonan

      Supremely well-stated Harood. I also really like the quote you choose to focus on:

      “Without the Wampanoag people, many of the already suffering pilgrims might have died sooner than expected.” This is such an important point too often forgotten.

  13. Mark Noonan


    The Pilgrims chapter 1 video explained how dangerous and extraordinarily lucky the pilgrims were for surviving such circumstances. Hearing the voyage they had to take reminded me of the lengths people will go to accomplish their dreams. It almost reminds me of the Frankenstein novel by Mary Shelley that I had read last semester for the Films from Literature class.

    I will be celebrating thanksgiving with my family as we do annually every year. I’m not a huge fan of the celebration and more so enjoy the day simply because it counts as a holiday so its a free day off.

  14. Mark Noonan

    After reading and watching a couple of videos I understood a lot of things. I didn’t really quite understood the story behind the celebration of thanksgiving. The pilgrims known also as English people migrated in search of freedom of religion. In terms of connection to the pilgrims and today’s immigration stories, many people immigrate for the same reason the pilgrims did. Many of the people who come to America come in search of the famous “dream”. That “dream” is different for everyone, many parents sacrifice themselves to give their children the opportunity to have a better life, a brighter future, to expand the opportunities that might not be available for them in their country of origin. I for instance was born In Puerto Rico, which is part of the United States. However, my parents are Dominican, even though I’m looked at as an American by many I consider myself an immigrant and even sympathize with those people who struggle to go out there in search of a better life.

    In the video “The Pilgrims: Chapter 1”, something that stood out to me was when Nick Bunker said, “They weren’t the people you would automatically expect to be founding a new outpost of the British empire.” This, in my understanding, is basically saying that everyone else had a perspective of these people, they undermine them; underestimated if you will. This stood out to me because it’s something that you can still see today. The people who come here to America are looked at differently not only because they might look different from their typical stereotype American but also because nobody really believes that a minority can actually go “anywhere”.

    I think that this video emphasizes not only how hard it is to start from zero somewhere else but also the fact that as hard as it is to immigrate it has its compensations at the very end.

  15. Mark Noonan


    3. Will you be celebrating Thanksgiving this year? Why or why not?
    I will be celebrating Thanksgiving this year because although there were many horrific events took place in years before the Native American and Colonial celebrated what’s is known today as thanksgiving. According to the clip from “The First Thanksgiving”, they celebrated the humbling event by gathering together and celebrated the fruit of labor. They played games and it was a very significant and defining event. They came together to celebrate alliance and abundance. They came out of mourning and grief to enjoy the day. From the outcome of the event, it created unity from two different cultures combining as one. Thanksgiving to me is the moment to take a pause and reflect on everything that I have and all the people I’m surrounded by. Life is too short to not be grateful for being able to live another day. As Covid had taught us, life is precious, being grateful can help improve physical health, mental health, enhance sleep, increase self-esteem and improve overall physical health and bring positive energy. When you bring positive energy, you can radiate positive energy around you.

  16. Ulises

    3. Will you be celebrating Thanksgiving this year?Why or why not?

    I would not like to celebrate Thanksgiving this year because of the fact that we are celebrating the true hidden truth of this famous and more important Holiday in America. It is difficult to celebrate a holiday where what happened was death, loss and genocide. It is not only the abundance of food, nor the belief of a god that we would be celebrating and as many of the people in this way is how they see it, but we would also be celebrating something darker and more sinister than it is known. According to Kathleen Donegan in The First Thanksgiving video, Donegan mentioned “But we don’t think about the loss. We think about the abundance ”. This shows that we only see Thanksgiving from the positive side of his history, but we never knew the dark side. Therefore, this is so incorrect and erroneous from my point of view because we are celebrating something beyond what is known, we are celebrating the death of many people, we are celebrating mourning. Because of this, I would not like to celebrate Thanksgiving this year or any of those to come, because it would be like celebrating the attack on 9/11 or celebrating the start of a world war, which would be very inhumane since we would be celebrating casualties of innocent people.

    • sumayah

      I AGREE, it is so sad that this is still even a holiday.

  17. sumayah

    Based on your readings, do you feel we should celebrate Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s Day? No, I do not believe that we should still be celebrating thanksgiving. I believe it’s even disrespectful towards the indigenous people or the native Americans that still live to this day! When we were in second-grade class we would eat raspberry pie and draw turkeys in relation to thanksgiving, and that was totally wrong!. On so-called “thanksgiving” they claimed that they have created a peace treaty amongst the native Americans and got along with them, but what really happened was just bloodshed. Many native Americans were tortured and murdered on their own land! I believe Christopher Columbus is a murder and a liar and that is the ugly truth.

  18. Christin

    “Based on your readings, do you feel we should celebrate Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s Day?”

    Based on my readings, I believe we should celebrate Indigenous People’s Day. The main reason being that, Christopher is portrayed in this false light. Many believe we should credit him for “discovering America”, when that land was already occupied and was a land that many Natives knew as home. Indigenous peoples day gives recognition to the fact that the Natives were the first inhabitants of the Americas. In addition to being the first inhabitants, they eventually served as a benefit to the pilgrims, due to the fact that they provided them with knowledge and the ability to rely on one another. A quote from the text “ Of Plymouth Plantation” by William Bradford states, “but Squanto continued with them and was their interpreter and was a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation. He directed them how to set their corn, where to take fish, and to procure other commodities, and was also their pilot to bring them to unknown places for their profit, and never left them till he died”. Squanto, a brave native, taught the pilgrims basic survival skills and provided them with genuine companionship. It is clear they appreciated him a great deal because they believed he was sent to them from God. They valued this new concept of life that Squanto / the natives willingly shared with them. Furthermore, the indigenous people were more genuine in my opinion, compared to Christopher who thought to enslave the indigenous people/ natives and would have if his proposal wasn’t denied by the Queen. However, regardless of the past, they learned how to accommodate one another and were eventually civil enough to come together to feast and celebrate a single God ( “The first thanksgiving”). So in the end, the pilgrims got the freedom of religion they desired and were blessed with a group of people, the indigenous, that they were able to appreciate in the long run.

  19. Amyl

    Based on the readings, I will not be celebrating Thanksgiving this year or any. The reason being is, I don’t feel connected the way some may think about this holiday. In the videos, I learned William Bradford did not even call it Thanksgiving. Rather the details have been grayed, and instead, fluffed up. It was not an invitation as many presented it to be. Instead, it was simply 90 men who decided to stay for three days and brought their share of food to share (5 deer to be precise) and played games together. The reason why Thanksgiving is known for being grateful is not because you are just thankful. Both the Pilgrims and the Colonial Americans had lost many of their people due to various reasons. The focus is on gratefulness to lessen the bitterness of mourning and grief. Rather than focusing on their losses, they learn to appreciate and be grateful for what they have. American’s have fluffed out this holiday to eating turkey and holding a gathering while turning a blind eye to the real history behind such a loved national holiday. Thanksgiving falls under November 25th, 2021, this year. I will not be celebrating Thanksgiving. Instead, I will celebrate my brother’s birthday, which happens to fall on the same day this year.

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