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(from William Bradford,
Of Plymouth Plantation 16201647)
Henry VIII, king of England, broke with the Roman Catholic pope in 153233 over his divorce. He stopped all types of payments and appeals to Rome, claimed jurisdiction over all spiritual matters, and required from the clergy an oath of allegiance to the Crown. In 1549, under Queen Elizabeth I, an Act of Supremacy was passed declaring that the sovereign was the supreme head of the Anglican Church and The Book of Common Prayer was the proper guidebook to the Almighty.
During the reigns of Elizabeth I (15581603) and James I (1603 1625), small independent bands of breakaway worshippers sprang up. Those called Puritans distinguished themselves from the Anglicans in matters of organization and independence. They held that each individual could communicate directly with God without an intermediary hierarchy of bishop, pope, or king. They believed that each congregation had the right to choose its own leaders, hold simple services in simple places, and eschew the vestments, hauteur, pageantry, and protocols of the Anglican church. However, under the Acts of Uniformity, such religious independence by the Puritans constituted disobedience to the Crown.
The Anglican clergy pressed the authorities to enforce the law on religious conformity. Puritan meetings were sporadically spied upon, forcing them underground. In 1571 and in 1586 two Puritan groups were arrested, but members continued to hold their services in prison. On one occasion, sixteen out of fifty who were imprisoned died of jail fever. Two Puritan leaders, John Greenwood and Henry Barrowe, were imprisoned in 1587 and later sentenced to death for "devising and circulating seditious books." They were hung in 1593. The situation left the Puritans with but three options--to stay underground, to conform to the Anglican religion, or to emigrate from England.
Seeking freedom of worship in Holland, the first band of Pilgrims, as we now know the Puritans, sold their homes and possessions. Since it was then illegal to emigrate, they secretly chartered and boarded a sailing ship. The treacherous captain trapped them belowdecks, stole their goods and money, and betrayed them to the authorities, who seized and imprisoned them. The second contingent, secretly organized by William Brewster, rowed only the men out to their chartered ship to inspect it for safety and avoid another case of chicanery. Left ashore, the women and children with their baggage were discovered, intercepted by "horse and foot," and rounded up, leaving only the men to sail, forlorn and destitute, across the sea to Holland. These women and children were shifted from one inadequate prison to another for months on end, without trial, sufficient food, or shelter. Their final, successful exodus took place in 1608.
A group of about one hundred Pilgrims landed in Amsterdam and soon migrated to Leyden, where they lived and worked. After twelve years, the congregation, having increased to three hundred, found the work hard and their incomes small. They also feared that they lacked sufficient civil autonomy and were apprehensive of their children being "Dutchified." In the winter of 161617 they decided that America would be a freer, more secluded place to independently lead their lives and practice their beliefs.
Selected from his Of Plymouth Plantation, here is William Bradford's story of the Pilgrims' farewell as they boarded the ship Speedwell for England. The Speedwell sailed them across the English Channel, to England, but once it left England, in company with the larger Mayflower, leaks in the hull forced it to turn back. Only the Mayflower made it to America.
At length, the provisions were collected and everything was ready. A small ship [the Speedwell ] was brought to Holland to help in transportation, and to stay in the New World for fishing and such other affairs as might be for the good and benefit of the colony. Another vessel, the Mayflower, was hired at London.
So being ready to depart from Leyden, the day was spent in solemn humiliation, their pastor taking his text, from Ezra vii.21: "And there at the river, by Ahava, I proclaimed a fast, that we might humble ourselves before our God, and seek of Him a right way for us, and for our children, and for all our substance." The rest of the time was spent in pouring out prayers to the Lord with great fervency, mixed with an abundance of tears. And the time of being come that they must depart, they were accompanied with most of their brethren out of the city, unto a town sundry miles off called Delftshaven, where the ship lay ready to receive them. So they left the goodly and pleasant city of Leyden which had been their resting place for nearly twelve years; but they knew they were pilgrims, and looked not much on those things, but lifted up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits.
When they came to Delftshaven they found the ship and all things ready. Their friends who could not come with them followed after them, and sundry also came from Amsterdam to see them board ship and take leave of them. That night was spent with little sleep by the most, but with friendly entertainment and Christian discourse and other expressions of true Christian love. The next day (the wind being fair) they went aboard and their friends with them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad and mournful parting to see what sighs and sobs did sound amongst them, what tears did gush from every eye, and pithy speeches pierced each heart, that sundry of the Dutch strangers that stood on the quay as spectators could not refrain from tears. Yet comfortable and sweet it was to see such lively and true expressions of dear and unfeigned love.
But the tide, which stays for no man, calling them away that were thus loath to depart, their reverend pastor falling down on his knees (and they all with him) with watery cheeks commended them with most fervent prayers to the Lord and His blessing. And then with mutual embraces and many tears they took their leaves one of another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them.
Excerpted from American Courage by Herbert Warden Copyright © 2005 by Herbert Warden. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
|1||The pilgrims' farewell||3|
|2||The decimation and survival of Plymouth Colony||7|
|3||Mrs. Rowlandson's captivity||10|
|4||Ben Franklin - on the lam at age 17, homeless, jobless, and nigh penniless||18|
|5||George Washington's winter journey to warn the French||28|
|6||Daniel Boone discovers Kentucky and incessant warfare||32|
|7||The Boston Tea Party||49|
|8||Surrender - "in the name of the great Jehovah and the Continental Congress"||54|
|9||The Declaration of Independence - "we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately"||58|
|10||Washington crosses the Delaware - "victory or death"||64|
|11||Clark's secret march on Vincennes, 1778||70|
|12||A pioneer settler's hardships||81|
|13||William Cooper saves a town||94|
|14||The hazards of floating down the Ohio River||98|
|15||American privateer and British man-of-war clash||106|
|16||Davy Crockett reports from inside the Alamo||118|
|17||Sam Houston, with seven hundred half-fed, half-clad, half-armed men, declares, "we go to conquer" Texas!||131|
|18||Andrew Jackson's duel to the death||138|
|19||Fighting belly to belly with a grizzly bear||145|
|20||All hell broke loose right under the parson's nose||150|
|21||The forty-niners : broken hearts and empty pockets||154|
|22||Mark Twain on the daring of a Mississippi pilot||159|
|23||A fourteen-year-old boy rides for the Pony Express||164|
|24||The escape of a female slave||169|
|25||Quick-witted Mrs. Fisher saves her husband from Quantrill's raiders||180|
|26||Pickett's charge at Gettysburg||194|
|27||Saving the regimental colors||201|
|28||"Tell him he must die" : army nurse Louisa May Alcott comforts a dying soldier||204|
|29||"Portugee" Phillips's desperate ride||215|
|30||Dull knife's last fight||219|
|32||Desperado with two cocked, smoking pistols threatens Teddy Roosevelt||233|
|33||Shoot-out with the marshal||237|
|34||Saved by cowboys||245|
|35||Earthquake pulverizes San Francisco; fires spread; banker struggles to survive||251|
|36||Sergeant York - "the terminator" in World War I||261|
|37||Five aviators die trying to cross the Atlantic Ocean - then came Charles Lindbergh||273|
|38||Jimmy Doolittle's daylight raid over Tokyo||280|
|39||Wanted : an elegant female spy to bribe or seduce top officials at Nazi-controlled, Vichy French Embassy||288|
|40||Emigre physicist Enrico Fermi tests the precursor to the atomic bomb in a Chicago squash court||301|
|41||D-day : World War II||309|
|42||Sniper fight on Okinawa||321|
|43||The perils of civil rights for nine Little Rock students||328|
|44||Roy Benavidez, Vietnam superman||337|
|45||Astronauts rocket to the moon||346|
|46||September 11, 2001 : the passengers counterattack the hijackers on United Flight 93||352|