The Pilgrims came to America to escape religious persecution, not to build heaven on earth.

Yes, they did order their new commonwealth according to God’s Law, but their puritan theology allowed for no utopian naiveté. Man’s inherent depravity was well known to all.

The following poem by William Bradford [Governor of Plymouth Colony] illustrates their realism.

It also reminds us to keep our hopes for social reform modest as we make our pilgrimage heavenward.

Oh New England, thou canst not boast;
Thy former glory thou hast lost.

When Hooker, Winthrop, Cotton died,
And many precious ones beside,

Thy beauty then it did decay,
And still doth languish more away.

Love, truth, goodness, mercy and grace-
Wealth and the world have took their place.

Thy open sins none can them hide:
Fraud, drunkenness, whoredom and pride.

The great oppressors slay the poor,
But whimsy errors they kill more.

Yet some thou hast which mourn and weep,
And their garments unspotted keep;

Who seek God’s honor to maintain,
That true religion may remain.

These do invite, and sweetly call,
Each to other, and say to all;

Repent, amend, and turn to God,
That we may prevent his sharp rod.

Yet time thou hast; improve it well,
That God’s presence may with ye dwell.