When the Mayflower landed and anchored at New Plymouth in November of 1620, they settlers aboard the ship created a written agreement to create fair and equal laws that would support the settlement that was going to be established. The settlers created this agreement because the previous settlers have failed due to the lack of communication and agreement. The settlement then failed. To avoid the problem, the settlers aboard the Mayflower knew they needed the agreement in order to build a thriving community.
The Mayflower Compact is considered America’s first set of written laws. Each of these written laws were agreed upon and signed by the 41 men that were aboard the Mayflower when it landed in New Plymouth. Among the 41 men that signed the Mayflower Compact were:
- William Bradford
- Nathaniel Morton (William Bradford’s nephew)
- John Carver
- William Brewster
- Edward Winslow
- Isaac Allerton
- John Alden
- Myles Standish
The compact helped determine who had authority throughout the settlement that was created. The same compact was used until the year 1691 when new laws were put in place. One of the many laws that were created was the new land was to be free of the English law that was left behind. The settlement consisted of persecuted Separatists that left England looking for freedom from the religious laws. Once away from the laws, the men were able to develop the government that would work for their beliefs and the beliefs of who arrived at New Plymouth. The beliefs that were created were to be honored between each other, God and man.
Historians believe that the original Mayflower Compact was lost, but were able to recover Williams Bradford’s journal and Edward Winslow’s writing the following that 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 England, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, e&. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour 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 Politick, 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 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 writings and words within the Mayflower Compact have been used by many modern day leaders. The words and phrases used to honor each other and honor God set the founding nation in placed and has been followed to this day. Thomas Jefferson was the third United States President also used words and phrases in the Declaration of Independence that refers to honor each other and honor God. The phrase used says “I have little doubt that the whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our Creator, and, I hope, to the pure doctrines of Jesus also. I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our forefathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in this country.”
Learn more with these Mayflower Compact websites.