The Mayflower Compact
When Puritans left England in May of 1620, they were unsure what lay ahead for them, knowing they had to endure months at sea making the crossing. They were looking to create a “Shining City on a Hill” filled with believers in the Calvinist Christianity they had come to confess. They hoped when they landed in the New World, they would be able to create the type of civil and religious atmosphere that would make them prosper and, as was the case for all Puritans, get a sign they were, indeed, the elect.
Their brand of Calvinism was “covenant” centered. Throughout the Old Testament, God had made a covenant with men. This “Covenant Theology” prompted them to bind themselves into a civil body under a covenant. That document, signed before they landed to form the Plymouth Colony, was given the name, “The Mayflower Compact.”
Under this document, the first colony in Massachusetts Bay was established, and was to be the prototype of other covenants and constitutions that were to follow.
Later, decimated by exposure and famine, many of the signers never made it through the first winter. Those that did declared a day of Thanksgiving, which served as the point of origination for the New England holiday that was to follow well beyond 1620, into the 19th Century.
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 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.
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.
Mr. John Carver,
Mr. William Bradford,
Mr Edward Winslow,
Mr. William Brewster.
Mr. Samuel Fuller,
Mr. Christopher Martin,
Mr. William Mullins,
Mr. William White,
Mr. Richard Warren,
Mr. Steven Hopkins,
Mr. John Allerton,