The story behind the Mayflower 400 Stamps
We have created a set of six stamps for the Isle of Man Post Office in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the voyage to the New World of the Mayflower.
The stamps mark this important voyage and four hundred years of democratic history. During the launch phases, we were honoured to join Chief Minister The Hon Howard Quayle MHK to present the stamps to His Excellency the US Ambassador Robert ‘Woody’ Johnson, to mark Thanksgiving 2020.
The Ambassador tweeted:
— Ambassador Johnson (@USAmbUK) November 18, 2020
The individual stamps in detail
The Departure of The Mayflower
The Mayflower left Plymouth, England on 6th September 1620 with 30 crew and 102 passengers on board seeking a new life in a new world, free from religious persecution and full of opportunity. Their journey was long and arduous, but successful.
The Landing at Plymouth Rock
The Pilgrims arrived on 26th December 1620 at what is now Plymouth Bay, Massachusetts, where they settled and began construction of their first buildings. The landing place later became known as Plymouth Rock.
The Signing of The Compact
The settlers drew up the Mayflower Compact, an agreement to cooperate for the general good of the colony to deal with issues by voting, establish constitutional law and rule by the majority. It was signed on 11th November 1620 in what is now Provincetown Harbour.
Following a bumper harvest in the autumn of 1621, the colonists decided to celebrate with a three-day festival of prayer. They invited Native Americans, who they had become friendly with, to join them for a huge feast in what was to become known as the First Thanksgiving.
This stamp is dedicated to Myles Standish (1584-1656). The Pilgrim Fathers engaged Standish as their Captain and military leader and it is widely acknowledged that the
success of the entire operation was largely due to his wisdom and leadership. The image shows an engagement with Tisquantum, a member of the Wampanoag tribe with whom the Pilgrims developed a historic peace treaty.
The First Church in New England
After initially holding religious services on the Mayflower ship, the Pilgrims moved them to a fort on Burial Hill which they used from 1621 until 1648. The fort was also used for other colony events including meetings of the Plymouth General Court.
What people have said:
Ben Glazier, MD of Glazier Design said
“There are two great stories here, that of the oldest living parliament in the world, the Tynwald in the Isle of Man, and the four hundred years of growth of democracy in America. We thoroughly enjoy compressing giant concepts into a few centimetres and we are so pleased with the outcome. To see the designs displayed at the US Embassy in London is a proud moment indeed.”
Find out more:
Isle of Man Post Office https://www.iompost.com/stamps-coins/collection/the-400th-anniversary-of-the-mayflower/
Caleb Johnson, author and historian behind MayflowerHistory.com writes:
Four hundred years ago, 102 passengers, frequently referred to as the Pilgrims, set sail on the ship Mayflower, bound for the northern parts of Virginia, where they hoped to establish a small colony. The core of the passengers were religious Separatists that fled their English home parishes for Holland starting in 1607, due to increased religious persecution under King James I. Over the course of the next thirteen years the Pilgrims grew a church congregation in the town of Leiden, Holland – a country where they found religious toleration.
Concerned about a potential war between Holland and Spain; worried their children were losing their English heritage and culture; and yet still unable to practice their religious beliefs back home in England, they ultimately decided to attempt a dangerous voyage to relocate their church congregation and to create a new English colony in the American wilderness. To help finance their voyage, and the first wave of colonists, they recruited like-minded individuals from a similar congregation in Amsterdam and amongst Puritan sympathizers remaining in England. Filling out the ranks were some hired hands – servants, seamen, a cooper and a militia captain named Myles Standish whose family hailed from Lancashire and the Isle of Man.
The first half of the voyage went well with prosperous winds. About mid-voyage, however, the ship began to encounter storms. During one storm the main beam cracked. During another, a passenger named John Howland accidentally fell overboard, but he was successfully rescued. Two people died on the voyage – one passenger and one crew member.
The Mayflower passengers had a patent to settle in Northern Virginia, around the mouth of the Hudson River in modern-day New York. However, they ended up arriving at Cape Cod in New England, and their attempt to sail south ended in a near shipwreck. The adult men drafted and signed a document, on 11th November 1620, that has come to be known as the Mayflower Compact. In the Compact, all the adult men agreed to establish their own elective government and be obedient to its authority. The Mayflower Compact is one of the foundational documents of American democracy.
After more than a month of exploration, the Pilgrims came ashore at Plymouth in December 1620, and decided to settle and build their plantation on that location. They built their first common storehouse and their first houses. Although they had encountered some native peoples during their explorations on Cape Cod, they did not have any interactions throughout the winter months as they built their colony. In March 1620, the Wampanoag sent a visiting Abnaki named Samoset, who knew some English from the fishing vessels that visited of the coast of Maine, to understand the colonists’ intentions. He coordinated a meeting between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag leader Massasoit Ousemequin, introducing another English-speaking native named Tisquantum, or “Squanto”. The two made a peace agreement and mutual aid pact.
In the autumn of 1621, the Pilgrims brought in a small harvest of Indian corn, barley and peas, and made fishing voyages to supplement their food stocks. Joining with sixty Wampanoag who brought five deer, the two groups feasted, competed, celebrated and gave thanksgiving for three days; an event that is commemorated today as the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November.