In this Thanksgiving season, it is good to remember the marvelous example of faith, courage and steadfastness of purpose that enabled our Mayflower ancestors, who celebrated that first Thanksgiving, to survive seemingly unendurable conditions. There are at least six people in the Payson area who are descended from Mayflower passengers. Probably after 14 generations, there are many more than six. The six are members of the Arizona Society of Mayflower descendants who proved their descent as a condition of membership.
The Mayflower voyage involved unforeseen problems and incredible hardships. The original plan was to settle in Virginia on the Hudson River, which was then Virginia's northern boundary. The Dutch were concerned about this because they were interested in the same area. One of two ships for this trip was purchased from the Dutch. That ship, the Speedwell, needed serious repairs. Two attempts to make the trip failed because the Speedwell needed repairs. These delays meant that the Mayflower passengers were unable to get to America in time to plant and harvest a crop. Their food supply was based on that assumption.
After reaching Massachusetts, they intended to follow the coast to the Hudson River. This coast had not been charted. After serious problems with shoals and the weather, they turned back. In November 1620, they settled at Plymouth. During the winter, they exhausted their food supply. Then, they lived on five kernels of corn per day per person. Half of them, including Gov. Carver, died.
The half who survived had an abundant food supply after their 1621 harvest. That event was celebrated by inviting their Indian friends to the first Thanksgiving feast. We benefit today by their example and by the accomplishments of their descendants. Seven of them, from John Adams to our current president, served as president.
Another Mayflower descendant, President John Quincy Adams, referring to the Mayflower Compact said: "This is perhaps the only instance in human history of that positive, original social compact which speculative philosophers have imagined as the only legitimate source of government. Here was a unanimous personal assent by all the individuals of the community to the association by which they became a nation."
Other Mayflower descendant presidents are Zachary Taylor, Ulysses Grant, Franklin Roosevelt and George Herbert Bush. When you consider the careers of these seven presidents, their contribution to what we have today is huge.
Jim Winter, Payson