PROJECT MAYFLOWER is the tale of an underdog who assembled a team, built a boat and gave America a piece of her lost history. It is about courage, conflict and consequences, and reveals an important hidden chapter in British-American relations. The ship is Mayflower II and in 2020 the United State honored it by adding her name to the nation’s list of National Historic Sites.
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 American diplomats considered it a “publicity stunt.”
Then fate intervened as 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 and a team of underdogs was suddenly pulled to center stage of a drama about saving the “Special Relationship” between the U.S. and Britain. 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 secret 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 a $500,000 discrepancy. The ship cost $600,000 to build, but only $100,000 was clearly identified. Where did the rest come from?
The United States government confirmed that the Pilgrim replica 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 Mayflower II story than meets the eye.
By Richard Stone ©2021
Available in 2021.