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Learning through History: Pilgrims and Puritans -- The Case of the Confused Colonials

Courtesy of Learning Through History

Written by Brett Mills
This is my history: American history. Every day is a chance to learn about the people and times that helped to make the America I live in now. I try to keep the American story clear for young historians, but it can get tricky. When American history gets mixed up, I go to work. I’m Joe Bygoneday – time detective.

Learning Through History
Click to visit Learning Through History's web site

I was working the afternoon watch in the Colonial America division when two young people needed to see me. The pair came into my office and introduced themselves as Sarah and her friend Josh. Sarah and Josh told me that they were usually good friends, but a problem with American history had them mad at each other now. I knew they needed my help right away, so I asked them to tell me about their problem.

They were trying to learn about groups of people who came to settle colonies for England in America.

Sarah and Josh were okay until they came across Pilgrims and Puritans. Sarah was sure that the two groups were different from each other. Josh was just as sure that Puritan and Pilgrim were just two different names for the exact same group of American colonists.
It was too bad that neither Sarah nor Josh knew enough facts to prove who was right. I told them not to worry because their problem happened a lot. Soon, they would know a lot more and get back to being good friends.

It’s no wonder that Josh and Sarah got mixed up about these colonists. The problem was a lot more serious than the same-sounding starts to each name. Pilgrims and the Puritans both started out in England. They were colonial neighbors, settling in the same area of America during the same half of the 1600s. I shared these details with my visitors, and Josh grinned because he thought he was right after all. I said they really needed to get more facts about Pilgrims and Puritans to know for sure. Sarah and Josh wondered how they could get those facts. I was ready with that answer: ask questions to gather facts.

Pilgrims
Pilgrims Landing at Plymouth Rock
Josh and Sarah agreed to ask themselves questions about Pilgrims and Puritans while they studied. The answers would solve their problem, but first they had to decide what to ask. Together, the three of us worked on a good list of questions to apply to both colonial groups. Then I sent Sarah and Josh on their way. They would come back and report the answers to the questions on our list.

Sarah and Josh were back soon. They were eager to show me the answers they had collected, and reveal the decision they both agreed on now. They set the questions and sorted the answers for easy reading.

I’m glad they left me a copy for this file:
What problem did they have with the Church of England?
Pilgrim Answer – They wanted to separate from the Church of England.
Puritan Answer – They wanted to stay with and reform or purify the Church of England.

What year did they first come as a group to America?
Pilgrim Answer – 1620.
Puritan Answer – 1630.

What was their colony first called?
Pilgrim Answer – Plymouth Colony.
Puritan Answer – Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Who were their first colonial leaders?
Pilgrim Answer – William Bradford.
Puritan Answer – John Winthrop.

How many started settling their colony?
Pilgrim Answer – 102 people.
Puritan Answer – 1,000 people.

What class did most of them belong to?
Pilgrim Answer – Working class.
Puritan Answer – Gentry class.

What was their leading principle of government?
Pilgrim Answer – Agreement.
Puritan Answer – Authority.

What do Americans today remember most about them?
Pilgrim Answer – They first came to America on the Mayflower. They began the American Thanksgiving tradition.
Puritan Answer – They established the city of Boston. They founded America’s first high school and first college. They also held the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

Working together, the two squabbling classmates had gathered just some of the many interesting facts about the Pilgrims and the Puritans. Luckily, they got enough of the answers they needed to end their fight. Pilgrims and Puritans were definitely two separate English colonial groups in America. Sure, they had a lot in common, but each brought different traits to the making of America. Sarah had been right all along, but now she knew why. Josh stood corrected, but now he knew better. They had both learned the knack for being time detectives. Having the historical facts is important, and only the beginning. They are the clues that lead time detectives to the truth about the past. Since Josh and Sarah nabbed the truth, this case was closed.

The history just presented is true. No names were changed because Sarah and Josh weren’t bad, they were just confused.

About the author:
Brett Mills has a master’s degree in U.S. history. He enjoys writing, tutoring, and volunteering.

Make a Project
Pilgrim pal doll
http://jas.familyfun.go.com/arts-and-crafts?page=CraftDisplay&craftid=10179
A variety of Pilgrim crafts
http://familyfun.go.com/arts-and-crafts/season/feature/famf118pilgrim/famf118pilgrim.html

Online Fun
Virtual tour of Plimoth Plantation
http://www.plimoth.org/visit/virtual/index.asp#
Guide the colonists across the Atlantic to the New World
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/colonialhouse/teachers/pilgrims/index.html
Dress a colonist
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/colonialhouse/history/dress_up_flash.html

What to Watch
Colonial House – PBS ■

 


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