Sept. 16, 1620, according to the Gregorian calendar, 102 passengers set sail on the Pilgrims’ ship, Mayflower, with the blessings of their pastor, John Robinson. Their 66-day journey of 2,750 miles encountered storms so rough the beam supporting the main mast cracked and was propped back in place with “a great iron screw.” One youth, John Howland, was swept overboard by a freezing wave and rescued.

His descendants include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Humphrey Bogart, Franklin D. Roosevelt and George W. Bush. During the Pilgrims’ voyage, a man died and a mother gave birth. Intending to land in Virginia, they were blown off-course. With no “king-appointed” person on board with authority to take charge, the Pilgrims gave themselves authority and created their own government – the Mayflower Compact. READ MORE