The Mayflower Compact

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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, etc.
Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith and 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 of another, covenant and combine ourselves together 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. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod the *11th of November, in the year of the reign of our sovereign Lord, King James of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Ano. Dom. 1620.

The Mayflower Compact, 1620

More than a century before the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, or even the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, the Mayflower Compact outlined the rules under which a community of new American colonists agreed to govern themselves.

They were blown off course by a storm and landed far north of what was then known as the colony of Virginia, where they were chartered to settle.

Many of the 102 passengers who survived the crossing in the tiny ship’s cargo holds were Separatists who had come seeking religious freedom from the Church of England. Others had set out for Virginia seeking fortune or adventure. Far from the support of other colonists, and with a harsh New England winter coming on, they had to agree to work together for the common good.

Pilgrim leaders William Bradford and William Brewster drafted the agreement before the settlers went ashore. In it, the settlers agreed to form a “body politic” to form a government, and to abide by the laws that would be established for the “general good of the colony.” It was signed on November 11, 1620 (Old Style calendar, or November 21 today.)

The history of the Plymouth Colony is dramatic and often controversial, but that one act planted the seed of self-governance, freedom, and independence that we enjoy today.

One thought on “The Mayflower Compact

What do you think? Let me know here. Comments are moderated, and I'll respond as soon as I can. Thanks!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.