This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

The difference between Puritans and Pilgrims at Thanksgiving

My family, the Puritans, were not Pilgrims. In modern usage, it means the same thing, but the reality was quite different, as evidenced by the story of Thanksgiving.

The story of Thanksgiving is the story of a group of people, the Pilgrims, whose intention was to completely break away from their home country, England, and away from the Church of England. They established Plymouth.

My family, the Puritans, had no intention of breaking away from England, nor did they want to break away completely from the Church of England. They were interested in working within the system, to make it better. That's why they were scoffingly referred to as Puritans - which simply meant that they wanted to purify. They established Boston.

In terms of success, all you have to do is compare Plymouth (Pilgrims) to Boston (Puritans) and you see which group did better in the long run. Boston had a harbor, Plymouth had a rock.

So, if your vision of the Pilgrims is that they headed out to the wilds of a new world, only to find they were on the brink of starvation, you are right. They, and many other groups of people who landed in America without really any type of plan, either died of starvation, or were forced to eat whatever they could find, and with any luck the people who already lived there (that they called Indians) would feed them.

My family, the Puritans, had no such need. Boston, from the very first, was a flurry of activity between The New World and England. Ships went back and forth all of the time. The Puritans included many hard-headed businesspeople, who landed their ships at a harbor, not a rock.

If you're reading this in America, you live in the world that my family had in mind. That is, successful. And it became almost immediately an "embarrassment of riches". So, instead of pointing to the Puritans of Boston, with their financial success, we look at the Pilgrims of Plymouth, who were much more humble. It just makes a better story.

Pictured above: My g-grandfather the Reverend Samuel Stone of Hartford, Connecticut.
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