Plymouth Colony was founded in 1620 by a group of English religious separatists known as the Pilgrims. They had left England in 1609 to escape religious persecution, emigrating to several cities in the Netherlands. The unfamiliarity of Dutch society and relative proximity to England prompted them to colonize.
The Pilgrims obtained a land grant for an area near the mouth of the Hudson River from the London Virginia Company in 1619. They left the port of Plymouth, England aboard the 100-foot Mayflower on Sept. 16, 1620 and sailed the Atlantic. They chose a location for the colony on Dec. 19, 1620 and made landfall two days after. The first winter was harsh on the settlers, killing half of the 102 original colonists.