Why Did the Pilgrims Come to the New World ?

Above all, the Pilgrims wanted to be free.embarkation_pilgrims.jpg

They disagreed with the religious teachings of the Church of England. In fact, the Pilgrims were members of a group of people called Separatists. These people had different beliefs than the rest of the English people. In 1606, they formed their own church in a small village called Scrooby.


At this time, the Church of England was the same as the Government of England. In other words, King James I was the head of both the country and the church. Not belonging to the church meant not obeying the king. This was treason.

So the Pilgrims left England, in search of a safe place to practice their religion. They chose to go to Holland and found a home in Leiden. For 12 years, they worshipped under their pastor, John Robinson.

But the Pilgrims were also poor. Many of them were forced to work difficult jobs all day long, for little money. They had found religious peace in Holland, but they were making barely enough money to survive.

What to do?

They finally decided to sail to North America. They didn’t want to join the Jamestown colony, founded in 1607, because they feared that the English people there would treat them badly because of their religious beliefs. So the Pilgrims settled on the northern part of the Virginia Territory, at the mouth of the Hudson River (near what is now New York).

Happily, the Pilgrims found businesspeople who were willing to give them money in exchange for a share of the profits made in America. The Pilgrims bought a small ship called the Speedwell and sailed back to England. They stayed long enough to get more colonists and a larger ship, the Mayflower. They set sail from Southampton on August 5, 1620.


The Speedwell wasn’t in shape to make the journey, and the Pilgrims returned to Plymouth, England. They crowded all 102 people onboard the Mayflower and set sail again, on September 16. This time, they kept going.

Part 2: The New World

The ocean crossing was long and difficult. Many of the Pilgrims wondered if they would ever see land. Two people died, and one baby was born. On November 9, they saw land.

Two days later, they dropped anchor at Cape Cod, which is now in Massachusetts. An advance party soon went ashore and looked for food and shelter, while most of the people stayed aboard the Mayflower. A group of Pilgrims, led by William Bradford, signed the Mayflower Compact, which said that they agreed to govern themselves and not take orders from other people.

More scouting of the new land followed, and the entire group finally went ashore and began to build a settlement. It was December 23, and the place was Plymouth.

The first winter was very hard. More than 40 people died. The rest of the Pilgrims made it through the winter. In the spring, they began to plant food and continued to explore their new home.

On March 16, Samoset and another Native American entered the Plymouth settlement and said, in English, “Welcome, Englishmen.” The Pilgrims were amazed. Samoset explained that he had learned their language from English fishermen who had fished there in the winter. The two peoples exchanged greetings and ideas. They parted as friends.

A few days later, Samoset returned with Squanto, another Native American leader. The Pilgrims welcomed him, too. Soon, Massasoit, the leader of the large tribe the Wampanoag, visited Plymouth. The two peoples signed a peace treaty that would last 50 years.

The Native Americans had taught the Pilgrims how to plant wheat, barley, Indian corn, and peas. Soon, the settlement was growing lots of food. Later that year, in the fall, the Pilgrims celebrated the harvest. They invited their Native American friends to join them. This has become known as the first Thanksgiving.

The Plymouth colony thrived. More people were born, and more people arrived from Europe. Soon, other colonies sprung up. It wouldn’t be long before English colonies filled the entire Eastern coast of North America.

The Pilgrims, in seeking freedom from religious punishment and economic hardship, had found in the New World new friends and a new way of life.

68 responses

  1. E.B.

    they escaped to get away from the Anglican church because they didnt have the same religious views as those under King james I. they wanted to go to a place where they were in charge of their own lives and how they believed, which is why they got on the Mayflower to com to the New World and have it as they wanted.

    December 1, 2007 at 6:22 pm

  2. Anonymous

    why did u guys take the land af the Native Americans and tell me the truth why did you

    March 10, 2008 at 8:54 pm

  3. I am currently making a family history book on the Pilgrims and was wondering if you have a copyrite on the picture of the pilgrims on board the ship or the ship representing the mayflower. Could I use them with permission.

    c stewart

    October 13, 2008 at 1:37 pm

  4. Anonymous

    hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi

    October 30, 2008 at 6:20 pm

  5. this was a great site to find research for projects.

    November 5, 2008 at 9:12 pm

  6. Pingback: The Ingram Family meets a history lesson and does a craft. at Jenny On the Spot

  7. I teach special ed. in SC and found your site from google image. what a great site. I’m going to use it to help answer you question at the top using my smartboard. Thanks for the help.

    November 7, 2008 at 7:18 pm

  8. Anonymous

    is that really the Mayflower or is it a replica

    November 16, 2008 at 12:56 pm

  9. joy

    i’m doing a research on the tools that was on the mayflower ship before they headed to america. could you please give a respond asap, thanks joy

    November 18, 2008 at 11:49 pm

  10. JK

    Thia was a great site!!!!!!
    We are from another country and my sister has a project on the Pilgrims so we don’t really know about the Pilgrims and America, but thanks to this site, now we know like everything about the Pilgrims. Thanks A Lot

    November 22, 2008 at 2:44 pm

  11. Pingback: Everyday Project Management » Blog Archive » Eating Turkey On the US East Coast - Travel Time 60 x faster than in 1621

  12. lol nimporte koi votre truc

    December 8, 2008 at 1:47 pm

  13. Dennis Parish

    if you want to know why the Pilgrims came read what they had to day. Find a copy of the Mayflower Compact in its original form and read the first paragraph.

    September 16, 2009 at 7:19 pm

  14. very interesting i think

    September 18, 2009 at 7:00 pm

  15. sa dechire

    October 20, 2009 at 3:09 am

  16. It helped me o9n my report thanks:)

    November 8, 2009 at 8:53 pm

  17. Gerry

    Dear Room 311: Short, accurate, and respectful to all. I am going to copy it and share it with friends this 2009 Thanksgiving. Thank You. Gerry Coleman, Raleigh, NC

    November 20, 2009 at 1:15 pm

  18. pilgrims are asome

    November 20, 2009 at 1:58 pm

  19. Lauren

    Thank you for this! I am an ex-pat living in Switzerland from Massachusetts and was looking for a nice short story of the Pilgrims to share with my European friends for Thanksgiving. This is perfect!

    November 22, 2009 at 12:24 pm

  20. jorge moreno

    i love food so if u have food give me some lol 🙂 hahahaha
    frome: san benito tx.

    November 24, 2009 at 12:50 pm

  21. This was perfect! I really needed and article that got straight to the point because I have a unit test tomorrow. I’m going to ace the test now! Please visit my blog. Thank You!

    January 20, 2010 at 8:03 pm

  22. Mikus

    Things you never knew about the Pilgrims:

    I have read that the Pilgrims left Holland mainly since it was a place of religous freedom and they were afraid of losing members in the more liberal Dutch environment.

    The pilgrims took the bible very literally and if a holiday wasn’t mentioned in the Bible they wouldn’t recognize it. Only after discovering Sukkot, a harvest festival in the Hebrew Bible ( still celebrated usually in September or October) did they make plans to celebrate Thnaksgiving-they certainly didn’t invent it!

    The real pilgrims wore clothing colored brown, green and other colors. Black dyes were not available in this time period so the pictures of them in black may be an inaccurate translation of the pictures of the pilgrims from early black and white books!

    October 9, 2010 at 7:23 am

  23. Carlos Gonzalez

    turkeys… 🙂

    December 11, 2010 at 10:59 pm

  24. Jennifer

    Much of this information is false or being hotly debated among many historians and anthropologists.

    February 17, 2011 at 9:13 am

  25. Elizabeth

    What an interesting (both content and visually) website! Thanks! I would love to use the graphics (and footnotes) of the Mayflower and the Embarkation-Pilgrims in my family tree on Ancestry.com. This would be for personal use, only. If this is possible do I need special permission? I will definitely give “Source” credits to your website.
    Thank-you again for the great work!

    March 13, 2011 at 11:15 pm

  26. Brandon

    hello fellow classmates! brandon Wright

    October 17, 2011 at 11:01 am

  27. Nakul THE COOL


    October 18, 2011 at 9:32 am

  28. redfoo-ery day im shuffling

    good info(:

    October 28, 2011 at 9:49 am

  29. C Lon Smith

    This should be email to millions in America to remind all of us of our foundadtions an fight for FREEDOM!

    Thank you!

    January 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm

  30. Pingback: Journey To the New World « Issues Today: HRI

  31. Agent P.

    Hello There.

    September 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm

  32. Ashley

    very helpful have to write a play and act it out for the nursing home my mom works at….:) Thanks

    October 28, 2012 at 8:17 pm

  33. Pingback: Early American History and Thanksgiving Resources | Mills Blogs

  34. Anna Alfaro

    Plymouth is awesome

    November 20, 2012 at 5:09 pm

  35. sam

    this is relly good info about the pillgrams

    November 29, 2012 at 3:07 pm


    Cheese is the best thing that has ever happened to me!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    February 26, 2013 at 5:37 pm

  37. In my endeavours to produce a documentary to educate both myself and our viewers for a Christian TV channel in the Uk, Revelation TV, it is my opinion that this is the best site so far. I do feel we are seeing a return of persecution by the UK rulers which may lead to Bible believing Christians having to once again, flee their country. The only problem is that this time there is no where to go ???…. Any help would be most welcome in the making of such a documentary or place to go. Every blessings and thanks, Howard Conder

    April 1, 2013 at 7:45 am

  38. You ought to take part in a contest for one of the most
    useful sites online. I’m going to recommend this website!

    June 3, 2013 at 3:27 pm

  39. bob

    it is a really good site

    October 14, 2013 at 5:33 pm

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    October 26, 2013 at 7:27 am

  41. stephen

    why did the indane

    November 20, 2013 at 12:17 pm

  42. i learned alot from that

    November 22, 2013 at 2:57 pm

  43. Melanie

    Thanks for doing a great job it helped me with my essay and dont worry i cited your page

    December 1, 2013 at 3:48 pm

  44. kylie

    thank you for this information this helped alot for my state report………..:)

    January 13, 2014 at 7:56 pm

  45. Kylie

    Thank you for this helped me for my report

    January 15, 2014 at 8:19 pm

  46. JuniorHighSchoolStudent

    Thank you for this information, I found it to be really helpful for an essay for my LA class

    October 5, 2014 at 4:32 pm

  47. we are in school and we love IT LOL JK

    October 14, 2014 at 10:20 am

  48. patricia hernandez

    thanks for this information it really helped me with my power point<3 🙂

    November 20, 2014 at 4:23 pm

  49. Caroline Robbins

    I liked this site it helped me answer some important questions!

    February 23, 2015 at 7:18 pm

  50. p. haro

    Wouldnt it have been wonderful if they hadnt impinged upon the natives and then if they’d left the African Americans in thier homeland and not brought them over as slaves. People who have issues with other races need to remember that “We” caused all this. They wanted to be free in england but chose to enslave others.

    April 12, 2015 at 7:46 pm


    Some of this information is untrue. They learned english becuase one of the indians was sold into slavery and returned retaining some of the language he heard the english using. This also skims over a lot of other crucial details

    September 14, 2015 at 8:12 pm

  52. DRAGON


    October 14, 2015 at 5:07 pm

  53. I like it

    October 15, 2015 at 5:21 pm

  54. Anonymous

    I think will really help my project, because I forgot my worksheet at school with all the information!

    January 14, 2016 at 7:55 pm

  55. kaleb


    October 25, 2016 at 2:34 pm

  56. lillian

    this is amazing website to use for kids

    January 19, 2018 at 11:08 am

  57. Kylie Hawks

    Cool! this helps a lot!

    January 25, 2018 at 9:01 am

  58. Handis

    Can’t u just give the answers plz

    March 25, 2018 at 5:52 pm

  59. Bobby Jimbo

    Hello There!

    March 26, 2018 at 5:47 pm

  60. Hi…

    Is this ‘live’ commenting ?

    September 13, 2018 at 11:51 pm

  61. Frank Todaro

    Same way America today was created, except with more guns, and ships.

    September 19, 2018 at 2:36 pm

  62. Anonymous 2.0

    Awesome website guys, I really like the website, using it for a school project right now.

    October 23, 2018 at 4:31 pm

  63. Cole Asbury Height


    October 24, 2018 at 12:01 pm

  64. Curtis D Hawks

    I teach every other month at three nursing homes our church has adopted for a monthly ministry. I would like to use your story to augment my lesson this Thanksgiving season. Thank you for a story that matches what I was taught in grade school more than five decades ago.

    October 30, 2018 at 6:41 pm

  65. lol

    I like turtles

    November 7, 2018 at 11:20 am

  66. princess thorn

    i have to use this website for school 😦

    November 14, 2018 at 12:31 pm

  67. princess thorn


    November 14, 2018 at 12:38 pm

  68. Aalexsis Young

    what is the answer!!!😡😠😑😣

    December 11, 2018 at 12:05 pm

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