If you go to New Plymouth, a small town in the United States of America, you will see there a rock which reaches the sea. Many thousands of people from different parts of the United States and from many other countries in the world come to this small town and they always go to see the Rock. They take off their hats, stand there and think about the brave men and women who, more than three hundred years ago, were standing on this Rock and looking at the country where they had come to begin a new life.
They had built a small village there, and American people say that out of this small village grew a big country – the United States of America.
It was in 1620, in the time of King James the First. English people did not like their king and they called him ‘The Foolish King of England’. Many of them even left England and went to live in other countries.
In November, 1620, a small ship, the Mayflower, left England. There were about one hundred people aboard
the ship, but even for this hundred the ship was too small. For seven long weeks the Mayflower was in the waves and storms of the Atlantic Ocean, and at last the people saw land. It was America.
It was already autumn. It was raining and a cold wind was blowing. Sixteen men left the Mayflower and went ashore. In the evening they came back to the ship and brought some maize with them. They found the maize in the sand on the beach where the Indians had left it. Nobody in Europe had seen maize then, but when the people on board the Mayflower tried it they liked it very much.
Next day was Sunday and everybody on the Mayflower had a rest. On Monday some men went ashore again and this time they took some women with them. The women had to wash the clothes. Since that time Monday has been a wash-day in America.
During the next five weeks the men from the Mayflower left the ship every day. Sometimes they did not come back for many days; they were looking for a good place to live. The weather was very cold, more and more men fell ill, but at last they found a good place. There was a good harbour for ships there, some fields and forests near it and even a small river. The people began to build a village there.
By January, 1621, there were already two streets in this village, and they called it ‘New Plymouth’.
It was winter now. The people were tired and cold. They did not have enough to eat. More and more of them fell ill. There was a time when only seven men were quite well. Many people died. Sometimes two or three died in a day. When the houses were ready, the life of the people became easier; they had warm houses where they could live.
One day the people of the village suddenly saw a tall Indian who was walking along the street. They were frightened very much, but this Indian came up to them, smiled and said. “Hallo, Yankee! Hallo, Yankee!”
This Indian could speak English a little. He had learnt the language from the sailors of a snip which had come to this part of America a few years before. He called all Englishmen ‘Yankee’, because he could not say the word ‘Englishman’.
A few days later this Indian came to the village again together with some other Indians. They came as friends and helped the white men very much. But white men forgot about this help very quickly; a few years later when many people from Europe came to America, they began to take the land away from the Indians and to kill them.
All the Indians who came to the village of New Plymouth ‘Called the Englishmen ‘Yankee’, and since that time ‘Yankee’ has been the name of a white man in America.