Solutions for Higher Education engages in deeper reflection of critical issues in the world of colleges and universities.
In Episode 37, President Scott L Wyatt and Professor Steve Meredith discuss the origins of Thanksgiving. The story of Thanksgiving learned in school, and retold as folklore, is not the whole story.
The question of why the Pilgrims came to America is more complicated than it is often portrayed. It is said they came to America for religious freedom, but that is only part of the story.
“The actual reason they went to America was to escape the Dutch,” said Wyatt. “Yes, absolutely they were seeking religious freedom, but they had found it in Holland. The problem was they couldn’t live an English village lifestyle in Holland. So, in a lot of ways, they were actually escaping the Dutch, not gaining religious freedom.”
“These are people who, although they don’t believe in the Church of England, still loved England,” said Wyatt. “They wanted to have their own English community. They wanted their children to grow up English. They did not want them to be like the Dutch. They wanted to practice religion the way they believed it, in a community that had the same culture as an English community. They weren’t particularly excited about everybody worshipping however they wanted.”
At the time the Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower there had only been one successful colony in the Americas so far. The success at Jamestown had come at a terrible cost.
“In year one at Jamestown, 108 settlers landed and 70 of them died in the first year,” said Wyatt. “In the second year, 500 settlers landed and within that year another 440 died. In fact, between 1619 and 1622, the Virginia Company had sent 3,600 settlers to Virginia. 3,000 of them died. The odds were not with you.”
If it weren’t for Squanto, a Native American who spoke English and was able to communicate with the Pilgrims to teach them to sow native crops, the Pilgrim colony at Plymouth very likely would have failed, like so many others had.
Listen to Episode 37 here.