Speeches from the four nations of the Mayflower 400 commemoration

The Mayflower 400 anniversary was a true four-nation commemoration between the UK, the USA, the Wampanoag Nation and the Netherlands.

Thanks to organisers’ commitment to inclusivity, the marking of this seminal event in world history stands apart from previous anniversaries.

Four centuries since the ship’s sailing, all aspects of the story were explored through a ground-breaking series of events.

We examined the impact of the voyage through a diverse range of cultural exhibitions and projects.

And we broke down myths and stereotypes that have wrongly stood for centuries.

Often fascinating, ever insightful and always thought provoking, Mayflower 400 provided a memorable experience for all involved.

To mark the end of this unique programme, we spoke to key figures across the world.

These speeches form part of a legacy that will help future generations to better understand the Mayflower story.

A future for which we are all responsible.

United Kingdom

Adrian Vinken: Coordinating a more inclusive narrative with key UK locations and beyond

While Plymouth, UK, played only a fleeting role in the original Mayflower story, the city was privileged to coordinate this multinational collaboration.

From the outset, organisers realised that for the commemoration to do justice to the importance of the voyage, it called for a fresh and more inclusive look at the popular narrative.

Adrian Vinken is Chair of the Mayflower 400 Compact, the international partnership established to commemorate the sailing in 1620.

In total, 13 cities, towns and villages in England, Leiden in the Netherlands, and a series of communities around Plymouth in Massachusetts, came together to form this exciting and unique partnership.

Here, Adrian discusses the crucial roles each of these locations played in the Mayflower story. He also explains how important it was that the traditional, simplistic narrative - of righteous Pilgrims and noble natives - had to be confronted.

United States of America

Yael Lempert: Partnership has allowed US to re-examine legacy of the Mayflower story

In 1620, the colonists left the shores of England on board the Mayflower in search of a better life. Little did they know the role they would play in shaping history.

This historic voyage is a huge part of the American story. It is the very genesis of America as a refuge for immigrants and as a staunch defender of the universal right that is religious freedom.

Yael Lempert is the former Chargé d'Affaires for the Embassy of the United States of America in London, UK.

The Mayflower 400 commemoration provided the opportunity to re-examine the legacy of the story and better understand our past.

Here, Yael praises this unique partnership between the UK, the US, the Netherlands and the Wampanoag. She also talks about President Joe Biden’s intent to make it a priority to respect tribal sovereignty and self-governance.

The Wampanoag Nation

Paula Peters: Why Wampanoag truths and traditions are so crucial to the Mayflower story

For more than 12,000 years, the Wampanoag Nation has inhabited present-day Massachusetts and Eastern Rhode Island - where the Mayflower passengers arrived on the shores some four centuries ago.

Yet the impact of the Pilgrims’ arrival on the indigenous people who already lived in North America has been widely marginalised in the telling of the Mayflower story. Until now.

Paula Peters is a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe and founder of Native American creative agency SmokeSygnals. She was just one of the many influential figures who ensured Native America's central role in the Mayflower 400 anniversary.

For more than a decade, Mayflower 400 worked with the Wampanoag people to help keep the stories of their ancestors alive through a series of commemorative projects, exhibitions and events.

Here, Paula speaks from her heart about the work that has gone into raising awareness of the shared history of the nations and confronting the difficult truths of the Mayflower story.

The Netherlands

Karel van Oosterom: What the future holds for this exciting Mayflower 400 partnership

Some 400 years ago, the republic of the Netherlands was already home to many separatist groups and religious refugees.

The Mayflower Pilgrims decided to settle in Leiden in the early 17th century and went on to cement their place in Dutch history.

Karel van Oosterom is ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Here, Karel looks at how the Mayflower 400 commemoration acknowledged the past and also represents an opportunity for the future - celebrating the enduring friendship between the UK, the US, the Wampanoag and the Netherlands.

  • More from the Mayflower 400 Commemoration programme here.
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