Posted on November 25, 2020

It’s the 400th Anniversary of the Pilgrims’ Arrival. Why Haven’t We Heard More About It?

Tom Cotton, Fox News, November 21, 2020

We are marking a great American anniversary this month. In November 1620 a battered old ship called the Mayflower arrived in the waters off Cape Cod in what is now the state of Massachusetts. The passengers aboard the Mayflower were our nation’s first founders — or, as Daniel Webster called them, “Our Pilgrim Fathers.”

Webster delivered a speech to honor these Pilgrims on the 200th anniversary of the Mayflower’s arrival. Calvin Coolidge, then-governor of Massachusetts and president-elect, delivered an address on the 300th anniversary.

Regrettably, we haven’t heard much about this year’s anniversary because the Pilgrims have fallen out of fashion in elite circles. Just this week, The New York Times food section published an article that called the Pilgrim story, including the First Thanksgiving, a “myth” and a “caricature.” In place of these so-called “myths,” the liberal newspaper seeks to substitute its own, claiming the history of our nation is an unbroken tale of conflict, oppression and misery.

But that’s a lie about our country and its founders. No matter what the revisionist historians at the Times cook up, the truth about the Pilgrims is more remarkable than any story or holiday special. This Thanksgiving, it’s worth reflecting on why we celebrate the Pilgrims and their living legacy for our nation.

The Pilgrims were not the first European settlers to arrive in America, but they were exceptional nonetheless. As President John Quincy Adams put it, earlier European settlers were traders and adventurers motivated by “avarice and ambition.” They came principally to fish, farm and trap furs. By contrast, the Pilgrims braved the rough seas “under the single inspiration of conscience,” as Puritan Separatists from the Church of England seeking the freedom to practice their faith.

These Pilgrims distinguished themselves further by drafting a remarkable document to govern their community in the New World: the Mayflower Compact. In this covenant, the ship’s passengers agreed to form a “civil body politic” of “just and equal laws” based on the consent of the governed and dedicated to the “Glory of God” and the “general good of the colony.”


Little wonder, then, that Adams referred to the Mayflower Compact and the Pilgrims’ arrival as the “birth-day of your nation.” Or that Webster, despite all the events preceding Plymouth, said “the first scene of our history was laid” there.

But that history was only just beginning. The Pilgrims still had to conquer the desolate wilderness and establish their settlement.  {snip}


The story of the Pilgrims is not a myth or a caricature — it’s the living truth of history. What’s more, the faith, bravery and wisdom of the Pilgrims places them in the American pantheon. Alongside the patriots of 1776, the Pilgrims of 1620 deserve the honor of America’s founders.