This booklet allows students to learn about the Mayflower compact. It tells about its significance, roots, and importance.
1. The Mayflower Compact 1620
2. The Mayflower Compact • November 11, 1620 – a ship called the Mayflower lands off the coast of Massachusetts • The ship carries 102 passengers from England
3. Passengers • Passengers can be divided into 2 groups: 41 of the 102 passengers are Pilgrims, seeking a new life in America where they could practice their religion as they chose The remaining 2/3 of passengers are a mix of common people in search of wealth and a new life: merchants, craftsmen, workers, servants, and young children – the Pilgrims refer to these passengers as “strangers”
4. How the Voyage Came about • The Pilgrims had organized the voyage and secured the right to settle on land in America • The Pilgrims had signed a contract to share with London stockholders the planned profits from the colony • The 2/3 of the passengers who were common people were added to increase the chance of success of the colony
5. Roots of the Compact • The voyage lasts 2 months and covers 3,000 miles • The ship lands far north of its planned destination in Virginia – landing instead near present day Cape Cod • The Pilgrims decide to land here to build their community – causing an argument to break out between the Pilgrims and the “strangers” – some dispute exists about whether landing here was intentional or not
6. Rebellion Brewing • Many of the “strangers” wanted to continue on as planned to Virginia • Some “strangers” argued that, since the Cape Cod area was outside of the jurisdiction of the Virginia Company, its rules and regulations no longer applied • Result: 102 people cut off from any form of government and a rebellion brewing amongst them
7. The Mayflower Compact • The first record of self-government in America is actually derived from necessity • The Pilgrims and “Strangers” make a written agreement to make and obey laws • The compact was signed by nearly all of the adult male passengers • The opening line of the Compact refers to the passengers as “loyal subjects” of the king
8. The Mayflower Compact • Very short and simple document • It binds the signers into a “Civil Body Politic” for the purpose of passing “just and equal laws…for the general good of the colony” • As simple as it is, it expresses the idea of self-government in America for the first time
9. Self-Government takes Shape • The signers elect a Pilgrim leader to be governor of their colony – which they will call Plymouth Plantation • Each year, the “Civil Body Politic” (all the adult males except the servants) assemble to elect the governor and a few assistants • William Bradford was re-elected 30 times
10. Why is it Important? • It contains the idea of law made by people • The compact of self-government would evolve into the town meetings of New England (a format still used today) • Most important to remember: It gave America the idea of self- government
11. Review Questions • What 2 groups made up the passengers on the Mayflower? • What events caused the passengers to write and sign the Mayflower Compact? • What is the most important idea contained in the Mayflower Compact?