The short (approximately 200-word) declaration tied its signers into a body politic for the purpose of founding a government and swore them to comply by any rules and regulations enacted later "for the public benefit of the colony." Almost all of the adult male passengers aboard the Mayflower signed the pact (41 percent ).
It was not an official document but rather a statement of principles upon which the founders agreed to base their governance. The compact itself does not specify how long it is meant to remain in effect, but early laws passed by the colonial assembly indicate that they believed it to be merely declaratory of existing rights and duties.
Its importance lies in the fact that it is considered the first written constitution of what would become the United States. It can therefore be said to have begun the constitutional history of the country.
Furthermore, because it is a statement of principles rather than specific rules, it allows for future amendments or new compacts to be made without changing the original declaration.
The compact was written in English by John Winthrop the Younger, who was serving as governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony at the time. He used language derived from the 1628 Charter of Charles II, which granted land claims in America by England and Ireland. This charter also served as the basis for other documents that established legal systems for those colonies and their successors.
While still on the ship, a group of 41 men signed the so-called Mayflower Compact, agreeing to form a "social body politic." This document would serve as the basis for the future colony's governance. The Mayflower Compact, signed on November 11, 1620, was the first treaty to create self-government in the New World.
The ship on which they had voyaged, the Mayflower, had run into trouble during a storm and been forced to land on what is now known as Cape Cod. On board were about 100 people, mostly young men from London who had moved to Virginia in order to establish a new life. They had already spent three years living with Native Americans in Virginia before being told by their government that they could move west and set up their own settlement.
When the passengers landed on shore, they found there was no water or food enough for everyone, so some of the younger men went back to the ship to get supplies. When they returned, they found that the rest of the people weren't on board - probably because they didn't have permission from the captain to leave the ship. So these men decided to keep the peace between themselves and the other colonists by signing what has become known as the "Mayflower Compact."
In this compact, each man agreed to help maintain law and order and share power equally. It also said that if any man was guilty of murder, he would be punished by his fellow citizens.
The rest of the Mayflower Compact is quite brief. It only incorporated the signers into a "Civil Body Politic" for the purpose of enacting "fair and equal laws... for the public benefit of the colony." However, for the first time in the New World, those few words represented the concept of self-government. They declared their intention to form a government that would be responsible to its citizens rather than an emperor or king who could do no wrong.
In addition to being the first written expression of this new idea, it is also important to note that all the passengers on the Mayflower were equal partners in the government. Although William Bradford, leader of the group, did have the most influence, everyone had a voice in debates about issues such as lawmaking and policy. To put this fact in perspective, there are only four other cases in American history where the founders signed a document expressing support for a form of government designed specifically for their needs.
These documents include the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and The Bill of Rights. There was never any question about whether or not these men were willing to die for their beliefs, but what is interesting is that they all went down fighting - some more than others. John Adams was willing to go to war to protect his rights as a citizen, but Thomas Jefferson preferred to use more peaceful means to achieve the same goal. In the end, it didn't matter how you got your ideas across, only that you got them across.
The Making of the Mayflower Compact In essence, the Mayflower Compact was a social compact in which the 41 men who signed it committed to follow the new government's laws and regulations in order to maintain civil order and their own survival. It also served as an agreement between the colonists that they would govern themselves through representatives rather than kings or lords.
The concept of a social contract has been a central part of many political theories, such as those of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The idea originates with the writings of Aristotle, who said that people enter into agreements with one another to prevent violence and protect property. In modern times, the term "social contract" most often refers to the agreement that all citizens of a particular country form an alliance against foreign power or other threats to national unity. According to this theory, individuals surrender some of their natural rights (such as freedom of speech and religion) in return for protection from external danger. Countries may alter or abandon their social contracts, such as when members of the United States Military fight for another country other than America itself.
The Mayflower Compact was not the only agreement made by the passengers before they left England. The overall leader of the colony, William Bradford, wrote later that during this time there were discussions on what type of government should be established, but no definitive decision was made.
The Mayflower Compact, a treaty signed on the Mayflower in 1620, established ideals of tolerance and liberty for the governance of a new colony in the New World (The Architect of the Capitol, 2001).
These ideals were not novel concepts at the time they were written. However, what was unique about the Mayflower Compact was its establishment of a form of government based on principles other than monarchy or dictatorship. The pilgrims believed that the best system of government for their colony was one that included representation from all classes of people living there. They also believed it was important for them to have freedom of religion, so that no one would be forced to act against his or her conscience if he or she did not want to.
In conclusion, the main objective of the pilgrims in drafting the Mayflower Compact was to establish a form of government that was fair and equal for all citizens.