History for the Rest of Us

The Mayflower Compact

The Mayflower Compact

Mar 17, 2014

The Mayflower

The Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor

The Mayflower Compact was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony. It was signed on November 11, 1620 (based on the Julian calendar used by the colonists – November 21 based on the Gregorian calendar) by 41 of the 101 passengers on board the ship. It was written by Separatists who were fleeing religious persecution by King James of England. When storms forced the ship to anchor at the hook of Cape Cod instead of the original destination of the Colony of Virginia, some passengers proclaimed that they ‘would use their own liberty; for none had power to command them…’ Many other colonists felt that a government should be established and the Mayflower Compact was a contract in which settlers agreed to follow rules and regulations with the ultimate goal of order and survival.

Mayflower Compact Text

Mayflower Compact Text – Handwritten by William Bradford

The original has been lost, but three 17th century versions of the document exist. Two are written by William Bradford. His handwritten manuscript is kept in a vault at the State Library of Massachusetts.

The text as it appears in Bradford’s writing is as follows:

In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereigne Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britaine, France and Ireland king, defender of the faith, etc. having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honour of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northerne parts of Virginia, doe by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civill body politick, for our better ordering and preservation, and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enacte, constitute, and frame such just and equall laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meete and convenient for the generall good of the Colonie unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape-Codd the 11. of November, in the year of the raigne of our sovereigne lord, King James, of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fiftie-fourth. Anno Dom. 1620.
Mayflower Compact Signing

The Signing of the Mayflower Compact



Signers of the Mayflower Compact

John CarverEdward TilleyDegory Priest
William BradfordJohn TilleyThomas Williams
Edward WinslowFrancis CookeGilbert Winslow
William BrewsterThomas RogersEdmund Margeson
Issac AllertonThomas TinkerPeter Browne
Myles StandishJohn RigdaleRichard Britteridge
John AldenEdward FullerGeorge Soule
Samuel FullerJohn TurnerRichard Clarke
Christopher MartinFrancis EatonRichard Gardiner
William MullinsJames ChiltonJohn Allerton
William WhiteJohn CrackstonThomas English
Richard WarrenJohn BillingtonEdward Dotey
John HowlandMoses FletcherEdward Leister
Stephen HopkinsJohn Goodman