On this day in 1620 the Mayflower Compact was signed aboard the eponymous ship. The Compact was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony and was written by the male passengers of the voyage, consisting of separatist Puritans, adventurers and tradesmen.
The Mayflower was originally bound for the Colony of Virginia but storms forced it to seek anchor at the hook of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Owning to a lack of provisions it was considered unwise to continue and that a colony should be established there. Because they would not be settling in the agreed-upon Virginia territory this inspired some of the non-Puritan passengers to proclaim that they "would use their own liberty; for none had power to command them". To prevent this, the Pilgrims determined to establish their own government, while still affirming their allegiance to the Crown of England. Thus, the Mayflower Compact was created, forming a social contract in which the settlers consented to follow the community's rules for the sake of order and survival. Historian Nathaniel Philbrick has argued that this provided “the basis for a secular government in America”.
The original document has long been lost, but three slightly different versions printed later in the 17th century still exist. A modern version of the wording goes as follows:
"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, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the 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 another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, 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 hereunto subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini; 1620."
Forty-one of the Mayflower’s 101 passengers signed the document. This was done on the 11th November under the Old Style Julian calendar, since England did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752. The Gregorian date would be November 21st.
Next year is the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s voyage with many events planned to commemorate the event. So… who wants to guess what our big build of 2020 will be?
These scenes were both built by James Pegrum; find out more by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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