David has taught college history and holds an MA in history.
The Mayflower Compact
In the year 1620, English society was torn between religious disputes. Conflict between Catholicism and Anglicism (the Church of England) would, in a short time, push the nation into full civil war, while disputes within Anglicism itself also ruptured the social order. Some religious groups, unhappy with English political and moral law, chose to sail across the Atlantic in search of a new home in where they could maintain their own laws and norms as they saw fit. The first and most famous of these were known as the Pilgrims, who traveled in a ship named the Mayflower and planned to make a new home in northern Virginia.
Travel conditions for the Mayflower were extremely harsh. There was no guarantee that passengers would survive the weeks-long voyage, as problems such as poor navigation, sickness, storms, or running out of supplies had the potential to doom the expedition. What's more, the voyagers were ill-equipped to survive a passage in late autumn, when the weather turned cold and the seas became rough.
Upon sighting land (farther north than they had planned), the Pilgrims were so overjoyed at having completed their voyage that they gave praise to God and wrote out a compact, a covenant between members who would be the leaders of the new community. The signatories to the Mayflower Compact are all men. While they brought along wives, sisters, and daughters on the voyage, these women had no political rights to vote or make decisions, and no American woman would be able to vote for another three centuries. Let's look at it now.
Text of the Mayflower Compact
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
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.
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,
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