The Mayflower Compact
You have probably heard about the Pilgrims and how they celebrated America’s first Thanksgiving. But, did you know the Pilgrims left our country another important legacy as well?
It all began in November 1620. The Pilgrims were on board their ship, the Mayflower. After many days at sea, they finally saw land. Even though everyone was happy to see the new land, some of the families on the ship were arguing. They disagreed on how to do things.
The Pilgrims were landing in an area that was not controlled by England. To survive, the Pilgrims would have to work together and create a colony. They would have to build houses, find food, and take care of themselves. Everyone would need to get along and help.
Before they landed, the Pilgrims found a way that they would be able to work together. The 41 men aboard the Mayflower met and signed the Mayflower Compact. The compact organized the pilgrims into a “body politic.” This political body, or government, would act with one purpose. It would work to create “just and equal laws” for everyone to obey.
There is little doubt that the Mayflower Compact created order and helped the Pilgrims to survive. Its legacy, however, continues to this day. The document is the first example in the New World of a constitution. The Mayflower Compact was written by the Pilgrims and meant to be for them as well. This principle of government being “by, of, and for the people” is one of the main ideas of democracy. Later, this principle would become a cornerstone of American government and the United States Constitution.