The New Plimmoth Gard has been observing Establishment Day since 2014. The Gard reenacts the events of Feb 17th, 1621, when the male Plimmoth colonists “called a meeting for the establishing of military Orders amongst ourselves, and chose Myles Standish our Captaine, and gave him authoritie of command in affairs…
This was in the midst of Plimmoth’s the first terrible winter, while struggling to build shelter and when more of their company were dying nearly every day. Despite the hardships they were facing, they took time to organize their militia because they were under constant observation of the local Wampanoag natives.
But why did the colonists elect Myles Standish as their captain when he had been hired back in Holland to do exactly that? Because, a few months before, they had agreed to “combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation…and by virtue hereof to enact..such just and equal laws, ordinances,… and offices…as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony.” In a first for the time, the freemen of Plimmoth elected their Governor, Captain and other officers each year. And Myles Standish was elected Captain of Plimmoth every year for the rest of his life.
To read the original account of this event, check out: A Relation or Journal of the English Plantation settled at Plymouth in New England, by Certain English adventurers both merchants and others (aka Mourt’s Relation) London, 1622. Available to read free at Project Gutenberg.