Mayflower (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
In 1620, 102 English passengers, many of whom were religious dissidents, crowded onto a small ship christened the Mayflower and embarked on a perilous journey across the Atlantic Ocean to found a community based on biblical ideals. Their historic voyage and subsequent settlement in the New World became the cornerstone on which a great nation was built. The seeds of myth, however, are often sowed in the soil of history, and the story of the Pilgrims is no exception.
In 1741, an elderly Plymouth resident claimed that his father, a Mayflower passenger, pointed out the very boulder where the Pilgrims had first set foot in the New World, giving birth to the legend of Plymouth Rock. Over the years, legend intertwined with symbolism, as the rock came to represent the solid ideals on which the United States was founded. The Mayflower Compact was hailed by Revolutionary War patriots and their descendants as a document that prefigured the Constitution. The iconic image of the Pilgrims and their native neighbors sitting down to a fall feast spread out on a white cloth-covered table originated in Victorian America after Abraham Lincoln instituted a national day of Thanksgiving during the Civil War. Writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wed legend to history in his poem The Courtship of Miles Standish (1858), the story of a supposed love triangle between three Mayflower passengersthe stalwart John Alden, the swashbuckling Miles...
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
Booklist 102, no. 12 (February 15, 2006): 4.
The Boston Sunday Globe, May 7, 2006, p. E6.
The Economist 379 (May 6, 2006): 82-83.
Library Journal 131, no. 6 (April 1, 2006): 108.
The New York Times 155 (May 4, 2006): E1-E9.
The New York Times Book Review 155 (June 4, 2006): 10.
The New Yorker 82, no. 10 (April 24, 2006): 164-170.
Newsweek 147, no. 18 (May 1, 2006): 63.
Publishers Weekly 253, no. 17 (April 24, 2006): 20-21.
USA Today, May 18, 2006, p. 6D.
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