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The Mayflower was the cargo ship that transported the English separatists or pilgrims, from a site near the Mayflower Steps in Plymouth, England, to Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620.

The Mayflower has an iconic place in American history as a symbol of European colonization.  The founding fathers were a small party of dissenting puritans who came to the new world to escape religious oppression and to practise their faith in freedom.

Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882)

Details of the Mayflower’s actual dimensions are unknown, but estimates based on its load, weight and the typical size of merchant ships of its day, suggest an estimated length of 90 – 110 feet and a width of approximately 25 feet.

The original voyage of the Mayflower included 102 passengers, of which only half were puritans.  The others were hired hands, servants, or farmers recruited by London merchants for the originally intended destination of the mouth of the Hudson River.  The crew numbered between 25 – 30 souls.

The Mayflower blew off course and never reached the Hudson River.  With winter approaching and with few options, the ship anchored in Cape Cod Bay.  During the harsh winter, the passengers and crew suffered an outbreak of a contagious disease described as a mixture of scurvy, pneumonia and tuberculosis.  By spring, there were only 53 passengers and half the crew left alive.

In March 1621, the surviving passengers left the Mayflower and eventually settled at Plymouth.  These were the earliest permanent European settlers to New England.  It is believed that in November of that year, the Mayflower survivors celebrated a harvest festival to give thanks for their salvation, thus launching the tradition of Thanksgiving in the United States.

The Mayflower, a privately commissioned vessel, returned to England in 1623.  It is believed she was eventually dismantled for scrap lumber in Rotherhithe, London.

 

The Mayflower coin is the latest release from Ships That Changed The World, a silver series that also includes releases commemorating Santa Maria (sold out), Golden Hind, USS Constitution and Cutty Sark.

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