Christopher Columbus commanded three ships: the Niña with 20 men, the Pinta with 26 men, and the Santa Maria with 41 men. There were no women. Chris landed in1492 in what we now call the Bahamas. He thought he had reached his goal of the Indies.
That group of Pilgrims who landed in what they hoped was northern Virginia was composed of 102 passengers. While there were women on board only 41 adult males signed the Mayflower Compact in November 1620. The Mayflower Compact set forth their original destination: “[A] voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia”.
Half the passengers of the Mayflower died during the harsh northern winter of 1620-21. The main men in charge were William Bradford, Myles Standish, Edward Winslow, John Carver, William Winslow and John Alden. No women had any say in navigation from England to America.
Had the Mayflower landed in Virginia instead of Massachusetts it is unlikely so many passengers would have expired due to the weather and lack of food. A slight turn to the left while still out to sea could have resulted in a landing in a more temperate and hospitable clime. On the other hand, as the Jamestown settlors of Roanoke, Virginia experienced, the locals in Virginia were less hospitable than those who saved the Puritans of Plymouth, Massachusetts, some twenty years later.
Of course, the Wampanoag Native Americans who saved the lives of the Plymouth Bay colonists may have eventually experienced the realization of the adage, “No good deed goes unpunished”. They were, at least, invited to the first Thanksgiving celebration in 1621.
The Mayflower compact set the proper tone of America’s democratic ideals. It was a solemn commitment to, “… combine ourselves together in a civil body politic” and to, “ … adhere to future laws as are just and equal … for the general good of the Colony”.
President George Washington signed a Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789 recommending a commemoration on the first Thursday of each November. President Abraham Lincoln, during the midst of the Civil War, 1863, set a national day of Thanksgiving for the fourth Thursday in November and Congress in 1941 established a national day of Thanksgiving as a federally recognized holiday.
The events that have transpired since 1492 and 1620 due to two incidents of missed directions give those of us of the male persuasion great credence when those on the distaff side claim we do not know where we are going. It is not so much that we may be lost, it is that we have great confidence we will eventually arrive at a better place.
Site Admin says
Great article, Jim. Thanks.