Mayflower Compact

After two months at sea, the Pilgrims arrived at Cape Cod. Imagine the sight that greeted their eyes on that cold November morning.

It was as though they had landed on another planet, a strange, unfriendly place with no signs of civilization-a stark, barren landscape. There were no friends or relatives to greet them, no warm homes for their comfort and no jobs to be had to earn a living.

Even before Mayflower anchored off the tip of Cape Cod, there was a near mutiny. The passengers had hired themselves out as indentured servants, promising to work for seven years to pay for their passage. Some of these passengers thought they could do as they pleased since they were outside the bounds of English law. So they threatened to take their freedom as soon as they got on land.

The Pilgrim leaders knew it would take a lot of hard work to survive that first winter. They would have to cut down trees and haul logs and thatch to build houses. They knew they would need all the help they could get.

To solve the problem, the Pilgrims wrote the Mayflower Compact. The Compact was an agreement signed by all the men on board-including the indentured servants-promising to abide by laws that would be drawn up and agreed upon by all male members of the community. The women were not allowed to participate in the governing process.

The Compact states that they would choose their own leaders and make their own laws. It also stated there was to be equal justice for all. This Compact became the constitution of the Plymouth Colony. It was the first document of American democracy to establish "government of the people, by the people, for the people." (Source: Duane A. Cline)

Agreement Between the Settlers at New Plymouth: 1620

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
Isaac Allerton
Myles Standish
John Alden
John Turner
Francis Eaton
James Chilton
John Craxton
John Billington
Moses Fletcher
John Goodman
Mr. Samuel Fuller
Mr. Christopher Martin

Mr. William Mullins
Mr. William White
Mr. Richard Warren
John Howland
Mr. Steven Hopkins
Digery Priest
Thomas Williams
Gilbert Winslow
Edmund Margesson
Peter Brown
Richard Britteridge
Digery Priest
Thomas Williams
Gilbert Winslow
Edmund Margesson
Peter Brown

Richard Britteridge
George Soule
Edward Tilly
John Tilly
Francis Cooke
Thomas Rogers
Thomas Tinker
John Ridgdale
Edward Fuller
Richard Clark
Richard Gardiner
Mr. John Allerton
Thomas English
Edward Doten
Edward Liester