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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The problems that the Pilgrims faced in the early history of the Plymouth colony show how much of a risky thing it was to try to settle in the New World.

First, the Pilgrims faced the problem of very bad timing.  They arrived in Massachusetts on November 9 and did not find a place that they felt was suitable to live until December 11.  This was important because it meant that they did not have time to really get settled in before the really bad weather came.  If they could have gotten settled sooner, they might have had better homes and been better prepared for the winter.

Second, they faced the problems that came with the technology of the time.  Their arrival in the New World was delayed for months because of problems with a ship that was supposed to accompany the Mayflower to the New World.  In addition, they ended up in Massachusetts rather than their intended destination to the south. 

Third, they faced the problems of disease and starvation.  This was true even though the Pilgrims were luckier than many people.  The Mayflower stayed with them through the winter, providing shelter and a source of food.  They had a relatively good site on which to live and had access to corn that the Indians had stored.  Even so, various diseases and hunger caused about half of them to die in the first winter.

Finally, they faced issues of political legitimacy and setting up a government.  There was some question among the people as to the legality of their charter now that they had landed in the wrong place.  This meant the colony’s leaders met some resistance.  This was the reason for the writing of the Mayflower Compact.

Even with all their advantages, the Plymouth colonists had a very hard time surviving the initial winter.  This shows the dangers that attended attempts to colonize the New World. 

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Plymouth Colony faced a slew of difficulties in their first year of colonization:

Disease:  Many of the Pilgrims died from pneumonia and scurvy.  Scurvy is actually a deficiency of Vitamin C, but the Pilgrims did not have access to any fresh fruits of vegetables that are a good source of that vitamin.

Starvation:  The men, women, and children aboard the Mayflower had to survive the long winter by eating the leftover food from their voyage.  This serious food shortage on board the Mayflower led to starvation.  Many of the mothers on the ship saved their food and gave it to their children instead of eating it themselves. A larger percentage of the children survived because of this; however, fourteen out of the eighteen adult women died during the first winter.

Severe Weather:  The Pilgrims arrived at North America during a very hard and unforgiving winter.  They attempted to last out the winter on the ship, because the snow and ice made it too difficult for the men to build shelters on land.


user5077473 | Student

They were very sick and wounded.

user5077473 | Student

Also they did not have good clothing. And most were already sick.

user5077473 | Student

They could not find good food and housing. So that was a bump in the road.

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