The signing of the Mayflower Compact

Posted On: Saturday - November 21st 2020 4:43PM MST
In Topics: 
  History  Americans  Legal Stupidity

It was 400 years ago today. As the Pilgrims stayed on their chartered ship, the Mayflower, for some weeks after the ship had made it to Cape Cod (Providence Harbor on the northern tip), trouble had been brewing. Not all of the people on the voyage were on the same page as far as what was to be done, law-and-order-wise, once they set foot in this New World.

The "Virginia Company", 2 companies actually, was a charter of King James of England under whose auspices the Pilgrims were traveling. From what I gather, that simply meant that it was legal under English law for them to settle the property in these sections of N. America's east coast (like someone who wasn't would ever be seen for 50 years in this vast wilderness). Because their ship hadn't made it anywhere near official Virginia at the time, the travelers on this voyage who weren't Puritans, called "Strangers" by those who were, reckoned they were sovereign in this new land. The Mayflower Compact, signed on this day 400 years back, made it clear that a government would be formed for all the settlers. Without it, who knows how much worse the new colony woud have fared. Maybe the "Strangers" would have done a better job.

This was not some EU Constitution-like book length document. It was not even anything near the length of the US Constitution. When they said "compact", they meant it. Here is the Mayflower Compact in its entirety, since it's kind of hard to read up top:
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 advancements 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 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.
That was that. I could write more, but I'll just link you to this quick History Site article, The Federalist, with more detail and understanding here, and, of course, VDare's remembrance, which requests input from their readers.

PS: I've been getting confused about some of the dates of this famous voyage's anchoring/disembarking/etc., but that's the story I've got from perusing 3 or 4 history sites. Some of the confusion was about the Old System dates and the New System. I will use our new dates, as anniversaries are about thinking back with nice round numbers. VDare is accurate as any news/opinion site I know, so I was relieved to see they had a remembrance post today!

Magic Dirt Resident
Tuesday - November 24th 2020 9:14AM MST
PS Thanks for covering this, I had no idea the anniversary was occurring. In response to Moderator's comment, Mass (and all New England) has a higher than average proportion of people with British ancestry, so it's fair to say a lot of them are probably descended from the Puritans. Perhaps even more important than the genetic inheritance is the cultural inheritance; that's how the Puritans have truly left their mark in NE.
Sunday - November 22nd 2020 3:02PM MST
PS: It's takes an impressive amount of courage to do something like this, especially with a family in tow.

I do see a lot of criticism of the Puritans, and when I see modern Mass, I wonder how many of these people are descendants. It's probably not any more than in most of the rest of the country, as much as people have migrated.
Sunday - November 22nd 2020 12:05PM MST
PS When I was a schoolboy, this would have been remarked, with pride, by the teacher. Even those of us who didn’t have majority British Isles ancestry felt real connection to the event. While it’s common on our side of the political divide to criticize the progressivism of the descendants of the Puritans, we can still acknowledge the courage of their ancestors in coming to a wilderness in order to live according to their own lights. How sad that the civilization that succeeding generations created out of that wilderness is being returned to barbarism
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