The Mayflower Compact
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The Mayflower Compact was signed November 11, 1620 aboard the Mayflower at Provincetown Harbor in what is now Massachusetts. Signed by 41 Pilgrims, the Mayflower Compact established a government for the Plymouth Colony. Although the compact recognizes that the signers are loyal subjects of our dear Sovereign Lord King James, it is basically a document that provides for colonial self-government in the New World. Thus, instead of asking King James or the British Parliament to provide a governmental structure, the colonists took it upon themselves to create their own government with power to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and officesthought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony.
Seven generations would pass between the signing of the Mayflower Compact and the Declaration of Independence, but the fundamental idea that Americans had the right to establish their own governmental and legal structures would continue to seem obvious to the colonists and subversive to the power structure in London. The Mayflower Compact itself remained in force until 1691.
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 advancement 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 of 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.
In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the 11 of November, in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James, of England, France, and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domine 1620.