navigation bar Houghton Mifflin Social Studies United States History: Early Years
Biographies Unit Biographies

Myles Standish 1584–1656
A Pilgrim Leader

In the autumn of 1620, a lone English ship called the Mayflower dropped its anchor along the shores of a shallow bay in present-day Massachusetts. The passengers aboard the Mayflower were a religious group called the Pilgrims. They hoped to begin a new life in North America. From the deck, Captain Myles Standish carefully studied the coast. It was his job to choose the best site and defend the colonists.

Standish and the Pilgrims chose Plymouth for their settlement. The harsh first winter nearly destroyed the colony. Half the Pilgrims died. Myles Standish helped to care for the sick. In time, the colony recovered. Standish learned the language of the Pilgrims' neighbors, the Wampanoag (WAHM puh NOH ag) Indians and helped make a 50-year peace with them. Standish had a seat at the table of the first Thanksgiving, a feast the Pilgrims shared with American Indians who had helped them survive. He later became the Assistant Governor and Treasurer of Plymouth and the colony grew over the following years.

Comprehension Check

What holiday did Myles Standish celebrate with the Pilgrims?

Critical Thinking

In what ways do you think making a 50-year peace with the Wampanoags may have helped the Plymouth colony to grow?