Provincetown History Snippets: What is The Mayflower Compact?
The Mayflower Compact was a set of rules for self-governance established by English settlers on the Mayflower on November 11, 1620. London stockholders had financed the Pilgrims’ voyage with the understanding they’d be repaid in profits from the new settlement. But when the Mayflower landed in Massachusetts instead of Virginia, the “strangers” (non-Pilgrims) on board argued the contract was void. Pilgrim leaders wanted to quell the rebellion before it took hold, so they created a temporary set of laws for ruling themselves per majority agreement.
The Mayflower Compact created laws for Mayflower Pilgrims and non-Pilgrims alike for the good of their new colony. It was a short document establishing that:
- the colonists would remain loyal subjects to King James, despite their need for self-governance
- the colonists would live in accordance with the Christian faith
- the colonists would create one society and work together to further it
- the colonists would create and enact “laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices…” for the good of the colony, and abide by those laws