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What was the Mayflower Compact?

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The Mayflower Compact (1620) was the first case of colonial self-government in America.
The Mayflower Compact was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony. It was drafted by the pilgrims who crossed the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower. It was signed on November 21, 1620 in what is now Provincetown Harbor near Cape Cod. Having settled at Plymouth (thus named by Captain John Smith earlier), the pilgrims recognized that their land was outside the chartered territory of the London Company. Thus, the Mayflower Compact was signed to establish a civil government based upon a majoritarian model and to proclaim the settlers' allegiance to the king. The compact was referred to by John Quincy Adams as the foundation of the Constitution of the United States, but he was speaking figuratively, not literally.
The settlers were well aware that earlier settlements in the New World had failed due to a lack of central leadership, and the Mayflower Compact was essentially a social contract in which the settlers agreed to abide by the rules of the government for the sake of their own survival. The government, in return, would derive its power from the consent of the governed.
The original document was lost, but the transcriptions in Mourt's Relation and William Bradford's journal Of Plymouth Plantation are in agreement and accepted as accurate.


THE MAYFLOWER COMPACT (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, etc.
Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and 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 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 11th 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 Domini 1620
The Mayflower Compact was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony. It was written by the separatist Congregationalists who called themselves the "Saints".
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