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The Mayflower Compact: The Pilgrims’ First Self-Governing Act in America

May 17, 2017


Signing the Mayflower Compact 1620 by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1899

When the Pilgrims arrived in America in 1620, they initially intended to sail to the colony of Virginia.  However, they found themselves north of their destination and outside of England’s colonial jurisdiction and charter.  In response, they together signed the Mayflower Compact to serve as a charter for founding their new colony of Plymouth.

The Pilgrims’ Mayflower Compact was quite unique and revolutionary.  Most charters at the time were between a king and his inferior subjects.  But the Pilgrims’ pact was among equals who recognized God as their High Authority to sanction their agreement.  They saw God as their king.  The Pilgrims and Puritans derived this idea from the Bible, often citing Isaiah 33:22 which says that “God is our Judge, Lawgiver, and King.”  As such, the Pilgrims’ compact was a strikingly new, democratic initiative that enacted the principle of self-government among equals.  It created a civil self-government to govern their new colony by the people.  At that time, self-governments did not exist anywhere else in the world.

The Mayflower Compact states, … 

The Mayflower Compact was the Pilgrims’ first self-governing act in America.  It initiated the principle and value of self-government that would endure and later become a key founding principle of the United States of America.

From AHEF and Angela E. Kamrath.

Source for more information:
Kamrath, Angela E.  
The Miracle of America:  The Influence of the Bible on the Founding History and Principles of the United States of America for a People of Every Belief.  Second Edition.  Houston, TX:  American Heritage Education Foundation, 2014, 2015.

Related articles/videos:
1.  The Principle of Popular Sovereignty
2.  Who were the Pilgrims?  Why did they come to America?
3.  Why the Pilgrims Identified with the Israelites
4.  The Pilgrims’ Mayflower Compact as a Covenant
5:  The Pilgrims and Private Property:  What the Pilgrims Might Have Thought About Communism and Socialism
6.  The History of Thanksgiving Day in America
7.  Three P’s That Led to Freedom in the West:  Printing Press, Protestant Reformation, & Pilgrims

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Middle & High School Activity:  The Miracle of America High School Teacher Course Guide, Unit 2, Part 2, Activity 3:  Principles of the Mayflower Compact, pp. 80, 331-334.  MS-HS.

Principles of the Mayflower Compact… 

To download these units, sign up as an AHEF member (no cost) to access the member resources page on americanheritage.org.

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Published by: The Founding

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