The Mayflower Compact: The First Truly Democratic Document in America

mayflower-compact

Though the original has been lost, this copy, written a few years later, still exists.

.The Mayflower Compact was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony. It was written by separatist Congregationalists (later referred to as Pilgrims) fleeing from religious persecution by King James of England.

It was signed aboard ship on November 11, 1620 by 41 adult male Pilgrims (out of 101 men, women and children on board).

It reads in part as follows:

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 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.

I have included a reference to this in my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story, both in recognition of its importance as the first democratic document written in America (by a non-native, that is) and to point out the inherent flaws in the democratic institution that it professes to embody.

 

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