By Jaime Thomas, Class of 2011
Thanksgiving is a traditional American holiday.  In the early 1600’s, a group known as the Separatists lived in England.  They were people who wanted to worship God, study the Bible, and pray, but the English laws did not allow the Separatists to worship as they desired.  They were to follow the law or be silent.  Secretly, they worshiped despite English law.  They were hunted down, tormented, and locked up for many months because they continued to worship as they chose.
Eventually, they heard about religious freedom in Holland and planned to escape.  After much hardship, England decided to let them leave.  Now called Pilgrims, they lived in Holland for 12 years but left because they couldn’t stand the hard life and couldn’t work their own trades.  They wanted to find a kingdom of God for their posterity to practice religion freely.  They had enough, so they hired the Speedwell and the Mayflower to carry them across the Atlantic to a new land in what is now America.  The Speedwell had many leaks and had to turn back.  The Mayflower then took in the Speedwell’s passengers, making its total passenger list over 100 names long.  The Mayflower was only 90 feet long and had three levels.  The Pilgrims sailed a total of two months and three days, cramped and hungry.  
On November 11, 1620, the Mayflower spotted land.  It landed in Provincetown, Massachusetts.  For over a month, the Pilgrims sent groups of men to find the perfect place for them to build a colony.  When they finally found a place, they called it Plymouth.  Right away, they started building homes and a common house to meet in, knowing that winter was near.  Unfortunately, a violent storm hit when the houses were not yet finished.  The Pilgrims were forced to stay on the cramped Mayflower during their first winter in the New World.  After this winter was over, more than half of them had died.  
The Pilgrims eventually made a good friend who helped them. His name was Squanto.  He showed them how to hunt deer, catch fish, and plant corn.  He had been kidnapped earlier in his life and taken to England.  This is why he was able to communicate with the Pilgrims.  He and his friend Samoset both spoke English.  Ultimately, a peace treaty was made between the Pilgrims and Native Americans that lasted for 50 years.  With the help of the Native Americans, there was plenty of food for everyone to eat that first summer, and there was also enough to last for the next winter.  The Pilgrims had so much to be thankful for.

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