What Is the Mayflower Compact?
Of the 100 or so people on board the Mayflower, only 41 adult men who were neither servants nor
Hello I'm Milo for About.com and today we're talking about the Mayflower Compact. Possibly the first example of a written constitution-like document in the new world, the Mayflower Compact was actually written onboard the Mayflower after the ship arrived not in Virginia as was planned, but in what was to be called New England. The Mayflower had set sail with about 100 passengers for the new world to settle north of Jamestown in Virginia. In addition to the organizing pilgrims or separatists who were seeking a place to practice their Calvinist faith free from persecution, the majority of the people on board were “Strangers” or adventurers, servants, tradesmen and the like who were necessary for the survival of the colony.When the ship clearly had gotten off course and had landed far to the north of its intended destination, many on board began to talk of abandoning the original agreement to form a colony and to strike out and do their own thing. The Pilgrims had begun to decide to settle here instead of Virginia which was now infeasible and some of the people onboard who were “Strangers” saw that as a release from their original agreement. So while anchored off Cape Cod, the drafters of the document intended to make a kind of social agreement that would temporarily establish a form of self-governance under allegiance to King James until a more formal and permanent agreement could be reached with England at a later date.Of the 100 or so people on board the Mayflower, only 41 adult men who were neither servants nor ship's crew signed the document. Despite the lack of a real majority, this document held sway as in fact it was not possible to survive in the wild without banding together under some notion of cooperation. While the original document does not survive, the Mayflower Compact is considered to be the first American Constitution although only in spirit not in content or form as it has had no influence or connection whatsoever as a legal document or otherwise to the U.S. Constitution. For excellent, insightful, and interesting information on history check us out at About.com.
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