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The Pilgrim fathers aboard the Mayflower were uneasy as they prepared to set foot on North American soil in late 1620. Their concern was rooted in two issues:
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 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 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.
The agreement first acknowledged the colonists' loyalty to King James I, and then bound them in a "civil Body Politick" for the purpose of forming just laws for the entire community. This document established a social contract within the community and formed a government based upon the consent of the governed.
The Compact is often regarded as the first written constitution in North America, but it was actually an adaptation of the common church covenant to civil purposes. The signers served as the initial government of the colony by electing a governor, enacting laws and admitting others to membership as they saw fit.
Despite repeated efforts over the years, the Plymouth community was unable to secure a formal charter from the Crown. The Mayflower Compact continued to serve as the basis of government until the small colony was merged with Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1691.
- - - Books You May Like Include: ----
Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick.
How did America begin? From this simple question, acclaimed author Nathaniel Philbrick sets out on an extraordinary journey to understand the truth be...
The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell.
In The Wordy Shipmates, Sarah Vowell travels once again through America's past, this time to seventeenth-century New England. From the British Library...
Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims' First Year in America by Glenn Alan Cheney.
Thanksgiving is not a book about a holiday. It s about something that a few dozen survivors did after a year of suffering, death, struggle, and courag...
The Adventurous Life of Myles Standish and the Amazing-but-True Survival Story of Plymouth Colony by Cheryl Harness.
Say hello to Myles Standish, a fiery man with short legs and an even shorter temper. When he got mad his face turned as red as his hair, earning him t...
Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History by Nick Bunker.
Backed by privateering aristocrats, London merchants, and xenophobic politicians, they were sectarian religious radicals who lived double and treble l...
The Secret Founding of America: The Real Story of Freemasons, Puritans, & the Battle for The New World by Nicholas Hagger.
Ask most Americans where the country’s origins lie and they’ll point to the Mayflower and its settlers—whom we often think of as the earliest arrivals...