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The Pilgrims were a small group of Separatists from East Anglia, England. They did not seek to reform the Anglican Church; instead, they sought to leave it. They were harassed in England.

The Pilgrims emigrated to the Netherlands in search of religious freedom. The Dutch were tolerant, but the Pilgrims became disenchanted by their lives in Leyden, Holland. Their economic outlook was poor, and their children were becoming more Dutch in their language and outlook. There was also a threat of a war between Holland and England.

The Virginia Company offered to finance a journey to North America. The money came from English merchants, and ships were procured for the voyage. One ship was not seaworthy, so all the passengers had to fit into the Mayflower. It was a difficult voyage on a crowded ship. Upon arrival, they founded Plymouth Colony. According to Governor William Bradford, they "came over this great ocean and were ready to perish in this wilderness."

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