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The Mayflower Compact

the first agreement for self-government ever put in force in America

The Mayflower Compact was drawn up because the Puritans (Pilgrims) wanted to avoid the failures of earlier colonies by establishing a government prior to settlement, and called for fair and equal laws for the general good of the settlement and with support from the majority. The Compact was signed by all 41 adult males aboard the Mayflower on November 11, 1620 (November 21 under the Gregorian calendar) while the ship was anchored in what is now Provincetown Harbor at the northern tip of Cape Cod, and remained the basis of Massachusetts law until 1691.

signing the Mayflower Compact

The original copy of the Compact was lost long ago, but it was reproduced by Nathaniel Morton, nephew of William Bradford, in his New England's Memorial (1669).

"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."

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This page was last updated on October 13, 2017.