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The Mayflower Compact

The Mayflower Compact is a written agreement composed by a consensus of the new settlers arriving at New Plymouth in November of 1620. They had traveled across the Atlantic ocean on the ship Mayflower which was anchored in what is now Provincetown Harbor near Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The Mayflower Compact was drawn up for the general good of the settlement and with the will of the majority. The Mayflower’s passengers knew that the New World’s earlier settlers failed due to a lack of government. They hashed out the content and eventually composed the Compact for the sake of their own survival. All 41 of the adult male members on the Mayflower signed the Compact.

Being the first written laws for the new land, the Compact determined authority within the settlement and was the observed as such until 1691. This established that the colony was to be free of English law. It was devised to set up a government from within themselves and was written by those to be governed.

Author Governor William Bradford makes the following reference to the circumstances under which the Compact was drawn up and signed:
"This day, before we came to harbour, observing some not well affected to unity and concord, but gave some appearance of faction, it was thought good there should be an association and agreement, that we should combine together in one body, and to submit to such government and governors as we should by common consent agree to make and choose, and set our hands to this that follows, word for word…."

The Mayflower Compact
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 11 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. Anno Domine 1620.


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