The Deep Story Of Mayflower Pilgrims | On Point

November 18, 2015 at 11:00 AM
The story of the Mayflower Pilgrims is more complicated – beautiful and frightening — than we were taught in school. We listen and learn.

An image from Jennie A. Brownscombe’s 1914 painting, “The First Thanksgiving At Plymouth.” (Wikicommons)

The Pilgrims weren’t the first colony in America, but they’ve become the country’s origin story. We learn in school about their flight from tyranny, their religious yearning, their difficulties. Then we boil it down to maybe a moment of prayer and throwing a heck of a Thanksgiving. The true, deep story of the Pilgrims is more harrowing and challenging than we generally acknowledge. Their suffering. Their radicalism. Their resorting to bloodletting to survive. And then, how they took center stage in our history. This hour On Point, a new documentary on the deep, true story of the Pilgrims.

— Tom Ashbrook


Ric Burns, documentary filmmaker and writer. Director of the new film, “The Pilgrims.” Also author of “We Shall Remain,” “Death And The Civil War,” and “New York: A Documentary Film.” (@RicBurnsFilms)

Kathleen Donegan, professor of early American literature and culture at the University of California, Berkeley. Author of “Seasons of Misery.”

Linda Coombs, program director of the Aquinnah Cultural Center. Author and historian from the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head.

* * *


Published on Sep 28, 2015

Ric Burns’ film THE PILGRIMS airs November 24th, and again on Thanksgiving, on PBS’ American Experience series. Check your local listings here:…

Featuring Roger Rees, in his final onscreen performance, as William Bradford and narration by Oliver Platt, THE PILGRIMS will explore the forces, circumstances, personalities and events that converged to propel their crossing, a story universally familiar yet largely unexplored in its rich and compelling historical actuality, and rarely presented in the broad global context required.


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