A LITTLE band of English men and women, who had left their homes because of religious persecution, sailed from Southampton, in England, on August 15, 1620. They had two vessels, the Mayflower and the Speedwell. The Speedwell soon proved unseaworthy and had to put back to Plymouth for repairs, while twelve of the thirty voyagers were added to the ninety who were already on board the Mayflower.
Nine weeks later land was sighted, and on the evening of November 19, 1620, the pilgrims brought their ship into what came to be known as Cape Cod harbor. Two days later the Mayflower dropped anchor off what is now Provincetown, which is the extreme point of Cape Cod, and a band of sixteen men, headed by Captain Miles Standish, landed to explore the shore. The first actual settlement was made a month later, on December 21, 1620, at Plymouth, a more protected harbor than that of Provincetown.
This desire of the Pilgrims for a place where they might be free to worship God as they pleased was the cause of the founding of the first colony in New England.