The year 2020 was supposed to be a big one for Pilgrims.
Dozens of events — from art exhibits and festivals to lectures and a maritime regatta featuring the Mayflower II, a full-scale replica refitted over the past three years at a cost of more than $11 million — were planned to mark the 400th anniversary of the religious separatists’ arrival at what we now know as Plymouth, Massachusetts.
But many of those activities have been postponed or cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. And historian Elizabeth Fenn finds a certain perverse poetry in that.
“The irony obviously runs quite deep,” says Fenn, a history professor at the University of Colorado Boulder who has studied disease in Colonial America. “Novel infections did MOST of the dirty work of colonization.”
Disease introduced by traders and settlers — either by happenstance or intention — played a…