PROJECT MAYFLOWER reveals a previously hidden chapter in British-American history and tells how an underdog became an unexpected international hero. It is a true story of courage, conflict and consequences.
Mayflower II sailed into New York Harbor on July 1, 1957 as the world cheered. Just nine months earlier a secret British Foreign Office memo called it as an “embarrassing ship” and the Americans considered it a “publicity stunt.” Then fate intervened. England started a “War of Choice” in the Middle East, the British pound collapsed and United States felt betrayed. Europe formed a Common Market that excluded Britain and the world’s two great democracies stumbled.
The wooden ship being built by a flamboyant Englishman was suddenly pulled to center stage of a drama about saving the “Special Relationship” and finding new markets for British products that might soon be slapped with tariffs. The “Code of Silence” that kept this story hidden for more than sixty years has finally been broken thanks to declassified government documents from the U.S. and U.K., access to a special archive and good detective work.
Just weeks before sailing past the Statue of Liberty, the ship’s cargo of treasure chests was quietly unloaded in Plymouth and no one was talking. When asked about them the answer was “Don’t know,” “Didn’t see anything,” “Heard nothing.” There was also an unexplained $500,000. The ship cost $600,000 to build, but only $100,000 was clearly identified. Where did the rest come from? Why was the U.S. Navy flying overhead? How did a secret meeting between President Eisenhower and Prime Minister Macmillan change the importance of the voyage just a month before it began? The United States government finally confirmed that the Mayflower II was “a famous ship in her own right” in 2020 when she was added to its list of National Historic Sites.
There’s more to the story than meets the eye.
By Richard Stone ©2021
Available in 2021.