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The Mayflower Compact is the agreement between the 41 male passengers of the ship Mayflower establishing the form of government of the Plymouth Colony (1620-1691 CE), signed on 11 November 1620 CE off the coast of present-day Massachusetts, USA. The passengers were almost evenly divided between religious separatists (who called themselves Saints) and others, not of their faith, whom they called Strangers. They were supposed to have landed in Virginia but had been blown off course, and upon realizing they were some 500 miles north of where they should be and that the authority granted to them by the Virginia Company who had issued their legal charter was void in this region, some of the Strangers noted that English law did not apply here and claimed that, once ashore, they would live as they pleased and it would be every man for himself.
Members of the separatist congregation, however, as well as – it seems – a number of the Strangers realized they would not survive if they did not all work together for the common good. The compact stipulated that the undersigned agreed to a democratic form of government for the colony where officials would be elected, and laws passed, in the interests of all. Every male member of the colony over 21 years of age would be able to vote for these officials and laws, have the right to change laws or remove those in authority, and propose news laws based on a popular vote; by signing the compact, one agreed to these stipulations, and the majority of those present did so.
The Mayflower Compact would not only provide the Plymouth Colony with its form of government and legislation but would influence later important documents in United States' history such as state constitutions, the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution. It is recognized as one of the most important documents in world history in setting a precedent for the establishment of a democratic government by the consent of the governed.
Separatists & Strangers
The Mayflower voyage was conceived by members of the separatist congregation of Leiden, the Netherlands, who had fled religious persecution in England by the Anglican Church under King James I of England (r. 1603-1625 CE). The separatists were Puritans, Protestant Christian fundamentalists who believed in a literal reading of the Bible, who wanted to see the Church “purified” of any non-biblical aspects such as clergy wearing vestments, the use of incense and music in worship, and adherence to the Book of Common Prayer. The separatists differed significantly from other Puritans, however, since they believed the church was corrupt, could not be saved, and true believers needed to separate themselves from it. Since the king was the head of the Church, any criticism of church doctrine was considered treason, and separatists were arrested, tortured, and executed.
The separatists were disappointed at having to travel with the Strangers, & the Strangers were no more pleased with the Separatists' rigid religious beliefs.
The congregation, under the leadership of their pastor John Robinson (l. 1576-1625 CE), left their homes in Scrooby, England for the Netherlands because of the Dutch policy of religious tolerance, but because they were foreigners in a land where well-paying jobs were controlled by guilds that favored nationals, they could only find menial work as laborers. They accepted this and other hardships in order to practice their faith while trying to raise money to travel elsewhere until 1618 CE when one of their leading members, William Brewster (l. 1568-1644 CE) published a tract critical of the Church and English officials were sent to arrest him. Brewster was protected by the congregation, but they understood that the time had come for them to leave.
Two of the congregation's members, John Carver (l. 1584-1621 CE) and Robert Cushman (l. 1577-1625 CE) negotiated with the merchant adventurer Thomas Weston (l. 1584 - c. 1647 CE), a man who matched prospective colonists with financial backers, to assist them in establishing a colony in North America in the region of the Virginia Patent, granted by King James I to the Virginia Company of London in 1606 CE. The Virginia Company had successfully founded Jamestown in 1607 CE, a thriving settlement by 1618 CE, and Weston was able to get them a charter for a colony in the same region.
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Weston was not interested in the separatists' religious beliefs or problems with the Anglican Church; his concern was entirely with making money for himself and the investors. To that end, he hired some and invited others to join the expedition whose skills, he felt, would prove useful in establishing the colony. These were the people the separatists called Strangers. Among them were Myles Standish (l. c. 1584-1656 CE), hired as military advisor, and Stephen Hopkins (l. 1581-1644 CE), the only passenger who had experience in the Americas having been shipwrecked off Bermuda and worked at Jamestown.
The Mayflower Voyage
Carver and Cushman, often at odds with each other and Weston, managed to outfit the expedition by July 1620 CE. A friend or member of the congregation procured them a passenger ship, the Speedwell, and Weston rented the party a cargo carrack, the Mayflower, for the journey. The Mayflower's captain was Christopher Jones (l. 1570-1622 CE), and the Speedwell was captained by one Mr. Reynolds (dates unknown). The passengers were divided between the two ships, along with their personal belongings.
The Mayflower was 12 years old in 1620 CE, but the Speedwell was a much older ship which had taken part in the 1588 CE battle against the Spanish Armada and was in poor condition. After the two ships left for North America, the Speedwell began taking on water, and the expedition had to return to land twice for repairs. After the second time, they understood the ship would never survive a transatlantic crossing, and it was abandoned. Some of the passengers remained behind while others boarded the already cramped Mayflower.
The Mayflower was never intended to carry a large number of people – it was a cargo ship – and so the 102 passengers who finally set sail were quartered in the 'tween deck (the gun deck between the main and cargo hold) where there was little light and constant draft and damp. At least two dogs were also on board as well as chickens, goats, and other animals. The separatists were disappointed at having to travel with the Strangers as they had thought they would be making the trip as a cohesive group, and the Strangers, it seems, were no more pleased with the separatists' rigid religious beliefs and practices.
The delays caused by the Speedwell meant that the Mayflower did not set off until 6 September 1620 CE, and the trip across the Atlantic was much rougher than it would have been, had they left in July. The first half of the voyage, according to the account of separatist William Bradford (l. 1590-1657 CE), was smooth sailing with a strong wind, but that soon changed as huge waves crashed against the ship and the passengers were almost continuously soaked by seawater coming through the portholes and from the wash across the main deck above them. Whatever tensions there may have been between separatists and Strangers could not have been improved by these conditions.
A number of the Strangers claimed it would now be every man for himself because none among them had any legal right to govern any other.
When, after two months, they came in sight of land – on 9 November 1620 CE – they must have welcomed it, but Captain Jones quickly realized that, wherever they were, they were not where they were supposed to be. The region of modern-day Massachusetts was known to Jones, his crew, and the passengers. It had been mapped by Captain John Smith (l. 1580-1631 CE), of Jamestown fame, in 1614 CE, and the separatists had purchased some of these maps in preparation for their trip. Once Jones realized where they were, he attempted to head south to their destination, but bad weather and dangerous shoals forced him to turn back toward where they had first sighted land off Cape Cod.
The problem was that the Mayflower had no legal right to land there nor had the passengers any authority to found a colony in that region. James I had granted charters to the Virginia Company of London and the Plymouth Company with the understanding that each would establish colonies away from the other so as not to infringe on the other's prospects. The passengers had been granted a charter to found a colony only in the specified region settled by the Virginia Company of London. The land they found themselves before in November 1620 CE was under the jurisdiction of the Plymouth Company and so their charter was invalid and the laws they expected to find already established were non-existent.
A number of the Strangers (no names are given in Bradford's account) pointed out that the charter they had been given no longer applied as it was only valid in the Virginia Patent. Therefore, in Bradford's words, they said that “when they came ashore, they would use their own liberty, for none had power to command them” (49). They claimed it would now be every man for himself, and this was clear, they maintained, because none among them had any legal right to govern any other.
Scholar Jonathan Mack suggests three possibilities for the source of the Strangers' dispute:
- Distrust of the separatists and no strong bond between each other
- Rejection of the rule of Christopher Martin, governor of the Mayflower
- The example of Stephen Hopkins when he was shipwrecked on Bermuda
Mack notes how the separatists were a tightly-knit community of believers who had lived together in Leiden and whose religious beliefs were far more rigid than those of the Strangers. The Strangers would have been members of the Anglican Church and would have objected to being governed by Puritans. At the same time, none of the Strangers had known each other until they boarded the ship and so had no reason to care what happened to each other.
Christopher Martin (l. 1582 - winter of 1620/1621 CE) was hired by Weston, Carver, and Cushman to purchase supplies for the expedition but was accused by the separatists of mismanagement of funds as the supplies never appeared and he seems to have kept their money. Further, in his role as ship's governor, he is noted by Bradford and another prominent separatist Edward Winslow (l. 1595-1655 CE) as arrogant and abusive to the passengers. The Strangers, therefore, may have feared that Martin would now continue as governor of the colony.The third possibility Mack suggests is that those who raised the objections knew of Stephen Hopkins' experience in the same situation. In 1609 CE, Hopkins had been aboard the Sea Venture on a supply mission from England to Jamestown when the ship was wrecked off the coast of Bermuda. The leaders of that expedition, Sir Thomas Gates (l. 1585-1622 CE) and Sir George Somers (l. 1544-1610 CE), maintained they still had authority over the others, but Hopkins objected because they were not under English law and so each man was free to do as he pleased. Hopkins was arrested, ordered to be executed for treason, and was only saved by contrition and pleas for his life.
It is unlikely, as Mack notes, that Hopkins would have instigated the same sort of trouble aboard the Mayflower as he had in Bermuda as this time he was traveling with his family and servants and had a substantial stake in making the colony a success. The first possibility regarding distrust of the separatists and a lack of cohesion among the Strangers is more likely, but the most probable is the objection to Martin continuing on as governor of the colony. When the Sea Venture was wrecked on Bermuda, Gates and Somers were able to assert authority as members of the upper class, but Martin was not the social superior of anyone on board and, by all accounts, was haughty, rude, and untrustworthy.
It is unknown who, specifically, proposed the Mayflower Compact – though likely candidates are John Carver, William Bradford, Edward Winslow, and Stephen Hopkins – or a combination of the four or more. Bradford only gives the subject a single line:
It was believed by the leading men among the settlers that such a deed [the Compact], drawn up by themselves, considering their present condition, would be as effective as any patent and, in some respects, more so. (49)
Carver most likely drafted the compact which was read aloud and then signed by 41 of the male passengers. Those who chose not to sign were servants who, though over the age of 21, owing to their status, would have to obey their masters anyway. The compact reads:
IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honor of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience.
IN WITNESS whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini; 1620.
The compact was carefully worded so it would be clear that none of the colonists were claiming the authority to establish law – as that was the sole right of the king – and so, even though the separatists had many grievances against James I, he is noted as their sovereign and they as his loyal subjects in the first line and referenced again in the last. The purpose of the compact is also made clear in that it is being written in order to ensure the establishment and preservation of a colony to be founded for the “advancement of the Christian faith and the honor of our king and country” and not in the personal interests of any of the undersigned.
The compact is the first known European agreement by which a government was established by the will and through the consent of those governed. Earlier documents, such as the Magna Carta, were forced on a monarch by the nobility, but the Mayflower Compact was drafted and signed by commoners, all of about equal social status, in the recognition that working together for the common good was more beneficial than insisting on pursuing one's own to the detriment of others. This equalitarian aspect of the compact would later influence the philosophy and vision of the founders of the United States.
Significance & Influence
The Mayflower Compact is thought to have been modeled on the covenant of the Leiden congregation, written by John Robinson, in which all who signed agreed to a single vision of faith and recognition of a common goal. The phrasing of the compact and Robinson's covenant are quite similar. The compact allowed for Carver, as governor, to assign responsibilities to members of the party with the clear expectation that they would be carried out. Scouting missions were launched, shelters built, and the sick cared for in accordance with the needs of all, not of the few.
After the colony was established at Plymouth, and the Native Americans of the Wampanoag Confederacy had initiated friendly relations, the compact served as the model for the peace treaty between the colonists and the Wampanoag chief Ousamequin (better known by his title Massasoit, l. 1581-1661 CE) which would maintain a close and mutually beneficial relationship between the newcomers and Native Americans until Massasoit's death and the influx of more colonists of the Massachusetts Bay Colony who required more and more of the natives' land.
The Mayflower Compact's significance would continue, however, long after the Plymouth Colony itself had been absorbed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1691 CE as the inspiration for the early constitutions of states such as Massachusetts and Connecticut. It would inspire the thinkers now known as the Founding Fathers to question the legitimacy of England's control over the original 13 colonies of North America, leading to the American Revolution (1775-1783 CE) and its ideals are echoed in the Declaration of Independence of 1776 CE. Later, after the colonies had gained their independence from England, the Mayflower Compact would inform the drafting of the United States Constitution and so still exerts the same influence in the modern era as it did 400 years ago when people of different faiths and backgrounds agreed to work together toward a vision grander than each could achieve separately.
The following is a very careful letter-for-letter and line-by-line transcription made by me of the Mayflower Compact, as it is found in the original page of William Bradford’s History Of Plymouth Plantation. Spelling and punctuation have not been modernized. The original from which this transcription was made can be seen in the graphic at the bottom of this page.
|In y e name of God Amen· We whose names are vnderwriten, |
the loyall subjects of our dread soueraigne Lord King James
by y e grace of God, of great Britaine, franc, & Ireland king,
defender of y e faith, &cHaueing vndertaken, for y e glorie of God, and aduancemente
of y e christian ^faith and honour of our king & countrie, a voyage to
plant y e first colonie in y e Northerne parts of Virginia· doe
by these presents solemnly & mutualy in y e presence of God, and
one of another, couenant, & combine our selues togeather into a
ciuill body politick for y e our better ordering, & preseruation & fur=
therance of y e ends aforesaid and by vertue hearof, to enacte,
constitute, and frame shuch just & equall lawes, ordinances,
Acts, constitutions, & offices, from time to time, as shall be thought
most meete & conuenient for y e generall good of y e colonie: vnto
which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witnes
wherof we haue herevnder subscribed our names at Cap=
Codd y e ·11· of Nouember, in y e year of y e raigne of our soueraigne
Lord king James of England, france, & Ireland y e eighteenth
and of Scotland y e fiftie fourth. An o : Dom ·1620· |
|John Carver||Edward Tilley||Degory Priest|
|William Bradford||John Tilley||Thomas Williams|
|Edward Winslow||Francis Cooke||Gilbert Winslow|
|William Brewster||Thomas Rogers||Edmund Margesson|
|Isaac Allerton||Thomas Tinker||Peter Brown|
|Myles Standish||John Rigsdale||Richard Britteridge|
|John Alden||Edward Fuller||George Soule|
|Samuel Fuller||John Turner||Richard Clarke|
|Christopher Martin||Francis Eaton||Richard Gardinar|
|William Mullins||James Chilton||John Allerton|
|William White||John Crackstone||Thomas English|
|Richard Warren||John Billington||Edward Doty|
|John Howland||Moses Fletcher||Edward Leister|
|Stephen Hopkins||John Goodman|
History behind the Mayflower Compact
The Mayflower Compact was signed on 11 November 1620 on board the Mayflower, which was at anchor in Provincetown Harbor. The document was drawn up in response to “mutinous speeches” that had come about because the Pilgrims had intended to settle in Northern Virginia, but the decision was made after arrival to instead settle in New England. Since there was no government in place, some felt they had no legal obligation to remain within the colony and supply their labor. The Mayflower Compact attempted to temporarily establish that government until a more official one could be drawn up in England that would give them the right to self-govern themselves in New England.
In a way, this was the first American Constitution, though the Compact in practical terms had little influence on subsequent American documents. John Quincy Adams, a descendant of Mayflower passenger John Alden, does call the Mayflower Compact the foundation of the U.S. Constitution in a speech given in 1802, but this was in principle more than in substance. In reality, the Mayflower Compact was superseded in authority by the 1621 Peirce Patent, which not only gave the Pilgrims the right to self-government at Plymouth, but had the significant advantage of being authorized by the King of England.
The Mayflower Compact was first published in 1622. William Bradford wrote a copy of the Mayflower Compact down in his History Of Plymouth Plantation which he wrote from 1630-1654, and that is the version given above. Neither version gave the names of the signers. Nathaniel Morton in his New England’s Memorial, published in 1669, was the first to record and publish the names of the signers, and Thomas Prince in his Chronological History of New England in the form of Annals (1736) recorded the signers names as well, as did Thomas Hutchinson in 1767. It is unknown whether the later two authors had access to the original document, or whether they were simply copying Nathaniel Morton’s list of signers.
The original Mayflower Compact has never been found, and is assumed destroyed. Thomas Prince may have had access to the original in 1736, and possibly Thomas Hutchinson did in 1767. If it indeed survived, it was likely a victim of Revolutionary War looting, along with other such Pilgrim valuables as Bradford’s now lost Register of Births and Deaths, his partially recovered Letterbook, and his entirely recovered History Of Plymouth Plantation.
The term “Mayflower Compact” was not assigned to this document until 1793, when for the first time it is called the Compact in Alden Bradford’s A Topographical Description of Duxborough, in the County of Plymouth. Previously it had been called “an association and agreement” (William Bradford), “combination” (Plymouth Colony Records), “solemn contract” (Thomas Prince, 1738), and “the covenant” (Rev. Charles Turner, 1774).
This is the “Mayflower Compact” as written by Mayflower passenger William Bradford
into his manuscript History of Plymouth Plantation about 1630.
The Mayflower Compact
Although the Mayflower’s crew were experienced sailors—Captain Jones had spent a lifetime transporting wine, while the two pilots or mates, John Clarke and Robert Coppin, had previously been to Virginia and New England—Jones had never travelled beyond Europe and he became alarmed by the huge waves, roaring breakers and shoals between Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. Instead of continuing south towards Virginia, he decided it was safer to turn the ship around and sail back up the coast to Cape Cod. Where Provincetown now stands on a slender peninsula curved around like a lobster claw, the Mayflower made anchor at sunrise on 11 November 1620, after just over two months at sea.
“Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor,” by William Halsall, 1882. Image is in the public domain via Wikipedia.
William Bradford remembered that the whole congregation, including Elizabeth and Edward [Winslow], knelt in prayer at having arrived at all. But for all their feelings that God had saved them, the congregation were half-starved. Those who ran ashore and gobbled green mussels contracted food poisoning. The ship’s sanitation, always unsatisfactory, was even more of a health hazard at anchor.
Provincetown had trees, which were reassuring to see. The same species as back home grew around the bay in a harmonious way. There were oaks, pines, and sassafras—nowadays the chief ingredient of root beer, but then reputed a medicine—and other sweet wood. Juniper was cut down and taken back to be burnt on deck to fumigate the ship and cheer the weaker passengers shivering with the cold and incessant damp. Two days after the Mayflower had landed, the women felt brave enough to disembark. They washed themselves and some of their clothes on the beach in a discreet fashion, holding up towels with relief at having some privacy and being clean at last (which, Bradford remarks in a down-to-earth way, was very much needed).
There was, however, the real problem of order with some of the ‘strangers’ who had come on board at Southampton. They did not share the Leiden church’s unifying sense of purpose. There were mutinous mutterings that since they were not within Virginia, they had no patent and were not bound by anyone or anything. They said, accurately, that when ashore they could do as they pleased. No one could command them.
The Pilgrims’ initial problems about permission to depart meant their new colony did not have the advantage of a royal charter. Therefore just before they landed, they decided that they had to draw up an agreement so that everyone would abide by the same laws, which included many of John Robinson’s suggestions. This is now known as the Mayflower Compact. By and large the colonists were sensible people who obeyed the rules and accepted that the energetic Myles Standish should be their military leader, as it was obvious that discipline might be needed at first—authority had to be laid down or the colony would not last. Some of their new companions—especially the chaotic, boisterous Billington family and their ringleader, the obstreperous John Billington—were an argumentative and easily aggrieved group, who were perpetually discontented. One Billington son, the mischievous fourteen-year-old Francis, almost killed some of the passengers when he set off his father’s gun inside a cabin full of people. luckily no one was hurt. Billington’s troublemaking and his refusal to obey Standish’s orders made John Carver, in many ways the kindliest soul imaginable, lose his temper. Billington was called before the whole company and condemned to having his neck and heels roped together in a humiliating fashion until he begged for mercy and was forgiven. Bradford described Billington as ‘a knave’.
The Mayflower Compact shows that the more educated—including Brewster, Carver, and Edward—had some understanding of early seventeenth-century social-contract theory. So long as they were adults, i.e. twenty-one, all males on board were allowed to sign it, including the indentured servants. It bound these forty-one people into ‘a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience’. There was no necessity to be a member of the leiden church.
Signing the Mayflower Compact 1620, a painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris 1899. Image is in the public domain via Wikipedia.
The Mayflower Compact has been much romanticized. The signing took place in no special cabin. It is unlikely that women or children were present for it, as many representations suggest. Yet artists are right to depict the scene as a moment of great drama and historical import. The act of creating such a colony was revolutionary. Plymouth Colony was the first experiment in consensual government in Western history between individuals with one another, and not with a monarch. The colony was a mutual enterprise, not an imperial expedition organized by the Spanish or English governments. In order to survive, it depended on the consent of the colonists themselves. Necessary in order to bind the community together, it was revolutionary by chance.
The Mayflower Compact has a whisper of the contractual government enunciated in the 4 July 1776 Declaration of Independence, that governments derive their just powers ‘from the consent of the governed’. It anticipated the eighteenth-century American Republic’s belief that political authority was not bestowed by a monarch but a contractual agreement of free peoples, articulated at the end of the seventeenth century by the philosopher John Locke. The eminent American historian George Bancroft has called the Compact ‘the birth of constitutional liberty . . . in the cabin of the Mayflower humanity recovered its rights and instituted government on the basis of “equal laws” for the general good’.
These ideas were not hashed about all the time in the community. They were simply a consequence of their endeavor. But of course, since the Pilgrims were interested in political concepts, devising the rules by which they were to be governed was extraordinarily empowering, especially after all they had suffered. Once the rules were established, the decision-making powers of ordinary people were validated as a way of life.
REBECCA FRASER, daughter of noted British historian Lady Antonia Fraser, is the author of The Story of Britain, which has been described as “an elegantly written, impressively well-informed single-volume history of how England was governed during the past 2000 years.” A reviewer and broadcaster, her previous work also includes a biography of Charlotte Brontë which examined her life within the framework of contemporary attitudes to women. Rebecca Fraser was President of the Brontë Society for many years.
Mayflower Compact - History
In 1620, the small sailing vessel, The Mayflower, set out across the uncharted waters of the Atlantic Ocean from Plymouth, England for the northern part of the Colony of Virginia. Unable to reach the intended destination, it finally dropped anchor off Provincetown on Cape Cod early in November. Most of the 102 passengers were of English origin, Pilgrims seeking a new home free from religious persecution where they might retain their English identity and customs.
Before a single person went ashore, it was necessary to draw up an instrument of self-government for the little band to replace the original patent. This immortal Mayflower Compact was signed in the tiny cabin of the Mayflower on November 11 by all adult males whatever their stations. The Compact was modeled on the Covenant by which the Pilgrims had lived in Leyden for more than a decade and was later hailed by John Quincy Adams, among others, as "the first example in modern times of a social compact or system of government instituted by voluntary agreement &hellip by men of equal rights &hellip "
THE MAYFLOWER DESCENDANTS
In remembrance of those God-fearing and dauntless Pilgrims, the first English settlers of New England, their descendants founded in 1897 the General Society of Mayflower Descendants followed later by various state societies under its overall jurisdiction.
The New Jersey Society was established in 1900.
© 2021 The Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of New Jersey
Why Is the Mayflower Compact Important?
The Mayflower Compact was the first formal framework of government established in what is now the United States. The Mayflower Compact was created to prevent dissent amongst Puritans and non-separatist Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth a few days prior to the drafting.
The Mayflower Compact was signed on Nov. 11th, 1620. The document was signed on board the Mayflower shortly after it came to anchor off Provincetown Harbor. The document was crafted by the Pilgrims who obtained permission from English authorities to settle in what is now the Hudson River Valley of New York. The Pilgrims intended to settle near the mouth of the Hudson river however, dangerous weather forced them to make landfall far north of their permitted destination.
An argument broke out among the 102 passengers when the Mayflower dropped anchor. Several of the Pilgrims on board argued that since the Cape Cod area was outside the agreed-upon jurisdiction, the agreed-upon rules and regulations laid forth by the English no longer applied. The Pilgrim leaders thus drafted the Mayflower Compact to establish an authority on their new land. The document was a formal attempt to establish a legally binding self-governing body.
The Mayflower Compact designated how male adult members of each church would worship God and elect church officers. The drafting also established John Carver, a Pilgrim leader, as governor of the newly established colony.
Arizona Mayflower Society
Most people know the story of the Mayflower which set sail from England in 1620 for the northeast coast of America. It carried 102 passengers of English origin. Some of the passengers came from Holland where they had been living to escape the religious persecution they had experienced in England. They were now leaving Holland for economic reasons and for the welfare of their children who would otherwise lose their identity in this foreign country. They sought a place where they could continue to have the same religious freedom they had enjoyed in Holland. The remainder of the passengers, who had still been living in England, were simply seeking a new home for the betterment of their personal situations. Together, these two groups were later to be known as Pilgrims.
The Arizona Society of Mayflower Descendants was organized with 37 Charter Members by Georgia Perle Wilson Schmidt (Mrs. Louis Bernard, Sr.) on June 6, 1955. The current membership is 383 adult members, 105 junior members, and 3 junior friends.
The Mayflower Compact
In remembrance of those early settlers and founders of democracy, descendants formed a Society in 1897 for the purposed of (1) perpetuating the memory of the Pilgrim Fathers, (2) maintaining the democratic principles of civil and religious liberty as set forth in the Mayflower Compact, and (3) fostering the ideals and institutions of American freedom. The General Society of Mayflower Descendants is a federation of 52 regional societies, consisting of 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada.
In November of 1620 at New Plymouth, a consensus of new settlers drafted a written agreement that is referred to as the Mayflower Compact. The settlers had anchored in what is now Provincetown Harbor near Cape Cod and had made the trip across the ocean in a ship that was called the Mayflower.
The basic idea of the Mayflower Compact was to create fair, equal laws in the best interest of the settlement and agreed to by the majority. There were many reasons that they had decided to draw this compact. The main reason was that they knew about earlier settlements that had failed due to lack of government. The Mayflower Compact was put in place in order to try and prevent some of the problems that came from lack of government in early settlements. So the main idea was to create these laws in order to better their chances of survival and success when starting the new colony. The Compact was signed by all male members of the Mayflower, 41 in total.
Due to the fact that it was the first set of written laws in the land, the Mayflower Compact was used to determine authority. However it would only continue to do so until about 1691. The colony that was being established was mostly made up of persecuted separatists. This is the reason that the Mayflower Compact in many cases acted as sign of being released from English laws. The Mayflower laws were drafted by the people that were to be governed and were intended to be the basis for setting up a government. This is one of the main reasons that the Mayflower Compact is such a significant historical event among historians and collectors. Its also the reason that different pieces from this time are highly sought after among many collectors.
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The Mayflower Compact
In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereigne Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britaine, France and Ireland king, defender of the faith, etc. having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honour of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northerne parts of Virginia, doe by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civill body politick, for our better ordering and preservation, and furtherance of the ends aforesaid and by virtue hereof to enacte, constitute, and frame such just and equall laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meete and convenient for the generall good of the Colonie unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape-Codd the 11. of November, in the year of the raigne of our sovereigne lord, King James, of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fiftie-fourth. Anno Dom. 1620.
The significance of the Mayflower Compact
In 1620, when the Pilgrims first landed on North American shores there were no established laws. They were the first European settlers to settle in the area. So they were forced to set up their own form of government creating the rules and regulations for future generations of Separatists to follow. Establishing rules and making laws were necessary for their survival and necessary in order to live peaceably with one another.
The Mayflower Compact was the first governing document of the New World and it was created by the Pilgrims aboard their ship, the Mayflower, upon first reaching North American shores. It was created and signed by all the male colonists on November 21, 1620. At the time the significance of the Mayflower Compact wasn’t known but today most of the laws written into the Mayflower Compact are still observed in America today. Some historians label the Mayflower Compact, &ldquoAmerica’s First Constitution&rdquo since it was the first known example of representative government in America.
The Mayflower Compact established four main ideals in concerns to future life in America. First the Pilgrims wanted to note their deep faith and devotion to God. Nothing was more important to the Pilgrims than to have religious freedom. After all, that was the main reason they chose to leave their home in England.
Second, the Compact noted the Pilgrims loyalty to England and to the King. Even though King James I was intolerant of the Separatists they were devoutly Christian and were a peaceful people.
Next it was important for them to establish a law where everyone was created equal under God’s law. They lived to please their Lord and felt that the Lord loved everyone equally.
Last and most significant in establishing laws in America today, the Pilgrims noted a desire to establish a democratic form of government. A government created by the people, for the common good of the people. They wanted to create a form of government that was equal and just for everyone living in America.
By drafting the Mayflower Compact the Pilgrims paved the way in creating an equal society one where everyone lives justly and freely. The Mayflower Compact was drawn up with fair and equal laws free of English laws, altogether, and it was observed by the Pilgrims in entirety until 1691.
When drafting the United States Constitution the authors simply expanded on the Pilgrim’s Mayflower Compact. Most of the Pilgrim’s set of ideals (with the exception of loyalty to England and the King) can be found in the United States Constitution and are still observed by Americans today.
The original Mayflower Compact has never been recovered. However Pilgrim governor William Bradford kept a copy in his journal and today that copy can be found at the state library of Massachusetts.
The American Value System and Critical Events that Led to It
The American Value System and Critical Events that Led to It:Â Today weâre discussing, âWhat is the secret sauce that produces good results in a society, in a community? And what was it that really led up to the American system that became the greatest nation in the history of the world?âÂ Bill Federer is joining us to talk about his new book, The Treacherous World of the 16th Century and How the Pilgrims Escaped It - the Prequel to Americaâs Freedom, which adds some great thoughts to this discussion! Itâs time for some learning, history, and fun as we talk about the Pilgrims, Muhammad, what led to our value system, and much more!