Mayflower Compact

Also found in: Dictionary, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

Mayflower Compact

In 1620 the ship Mayflower departed from England for the New World. Many of those on board were religious dissenters, known then as Separatists and later as Pilgrims or Puritans, who preferred to separate altogether from the Church of England rather than try to change the church as other dissenters attempted to do. The passengers also included emigrants who were not members of the Separatist congregation. The combined group of Separatists and "strangers," as they were called by the Separatists, had obtained a charter from the Virginia Company of London, giving them permission to settle within the boundaries of the colony of Virginia.

The Mayflower, however, did not reach Virginia. Instead, it arrived off the coast of what is now Cape Cod, Massachusetts, which was not within the boundaries of any established colonial government. The strangers asserted that they would not be bound by any laws, but William Bradford, the Separatists' leader, insisted that all male passengers sign an agreement to abide by the laws that the colonial leaders would establish at the colony they called Plymouth.

On November 21, 1620, forty-one adult male passengers signed the Mayflower Compact. The compact served as a device to preserve order and establish rules for self-government. The signers agreed to combine themselves into a "civil Body Politick" that would enact and obey "just and equal laws" that were made for the "general good of the colony." This commitment to justice and equality would be reiterated in many later documents, including the U.S. Constitution. Source: Ben Perley Poore, ed., The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the United States, vol. 1 (1878), p. 931.

1 English monarchs styled themselves king or queen of France between 1340 and 1801. The custom began when the English became embroiled in the Hundred Years War with France and King Edward III of England, whose mother was a French princess, claimed the French throne.

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, &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 politic, 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, 1620.1Mr. John Carver
Mr. William Bradford
Mr. Edward Winslow
Mr. William Brewster
Isaac Allerton
Miles Standish
John Alden
John Turner
Francis Eaton
James Chilton
John Craxton
John Billington
Joses Fletcher
John Goodman
Mr. Samuel Fuller
Mr. Christopher Martin
Mr. William Mullins
Mr. William White
Mr. Richard Warren
John Howland
Mr. Steven Hopkins
Digery Priest
Thomas Williams
Gilbert Winslow
Edmund Margesson
Peter Brown
Richard Bitteridge
George Soule
Edward Tilly
John Tilly
Francis Cooke
Thomas Rogers
Thomas Tinker
John Ridgdale
Edward Fuller
Richard Clark
Richard Gardiner
Mr. John Allerton
Thomas English
Edward Doten
Edward Liester

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Mentioned in ?
References in periodicals archive ?
Through the checks and balances of republican democracy (which, Kendall argued, echoed the spirit of the Mayflower Compact), no minority or majority could hold the nation hostage to a single agenda.
CONSTITUTION; VOTING) Our Founding Fathers (play), 031-16 Mayflower Compact (play), S5-16
Constitution; consider the Mayflower Compact, for example.
The immigrant groups could see what the host society and its historians could not and that was that the great divide between "history" and "heritage", to employ David Lowenthal's concepts, was duplicitous: the Mayflower Compact was as interwoven with teleology as the most "grotesque" filiopietist narrative of contribution history.
The lesson plan uses the following documents: "The Mayflower Compact"; "The Declaration of Independence"; "The Constitution"; and the "Bill of Rights." It studies these symbols: the "Bald Eagle"; the "Fourth of July"; the "American Flag"; the "Liberty Bell"; "Independence Hall"; "Lady of Justice"; "Pledge of Allegiance"; "Statue of Liberty"; and "Uncle Sam." Each lesson provides a relevant student activity.
Before getting the colony established, the Pilgrims drew up the Mayflower Compact, a contract that guaranteed equality and united the two groups who had slight religious differences.
Schoolteachers throughout the nation began to teach the story of the Pilgrims to their pupils.(39) Textbooks claimed that the Pilgrims believed in the democratic ideal, since they had drawn up the Mayflower Compact, the first democratic constitution in the New World.
The Constitution, the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bible are just a few of the works screened from viewers in schools and libraries in Utah via Web filtering software, says a report by the Censorware Project.
Moving to the view that the American founding is best understood in terms of the Puritan religious principles that animated the immigrants in the seventeenth century, Zuckert compares the philosophical position of the Declaration to that taken in the Mayflower Compact and in a John Winthrop sermon.
To make this argument, Zuckert interestingly compares the Declaration of Independence with the English Declaration of Rights and the Mayflower Compact. He argues that the philosophy expressed in the Declaration differs significantly from those expressed in these earlier documents, and that, therefore, they could not be the source of the Declaration.
A Link to the Past first.html-ssi The First Thanksgiving site offers the amateur historian the text of the 1620 Mayflower Compact and various Thanksgiving proclamations -- from the 1782 Continental Congress to George Washington's 1789 and Abraham Lincoln's 1863 addresses.