The Mayflower Compact: the Birth of Self-Government in America

“Our popular government lay in embryo on board the Mayflower…” 

Wellman, “Polity of the Pilgrim Church”, 1856

Divinely blown off course, the square rigger cargo ship Mayflower carrying 102 passengers of “saints and strangers”, landed off the coast of New England. Mutinous speeches immediately threatened their liberty because once they ventured ashore, the original patent for a settlement in Virginia was void as it belonged to another government. 

However, the devout and scholarly teachings of their minister John Robinson during their years in Holland prepared the Pilgrims to draw up a Biblical-type covenant which created a “civil body politic for better ordering and preservation; and to enact, constitute and form just and equal laws.” The Mayflower Compact was signed November 11, 1620 by the entire community of men while the ship anchored in the harbor. 

This simple but remarkable document became the first charter for local self-government under God and gave birth to our future Christian Republic. 

On November 21, 2020 (new calendar), we commemorate the 400th anniversary of the signing of the Mayflower Compact. This important event marks the foundation of liberty under law in America and gives each individual the right to participate in government while promising to be obedient to the law.

Teach the Children:

  1. A compact is a covenant. God initiated the first covenant with Adam and Eve. 
  2. Bible covenants are used to depict God’s process of bringing people into unity with Him and each other. *
  3. The Mayflower Compact initiated self-government on the shores of America.

*Read more about Mayflower Compact Day by Paul Jehle here.

Additional Mayflower Compact resources:

“Plimoth Plantation Day Packet”, complied by Elizabeth L. Youmans, Foundation for American Christian Education, Chesapeake, Virginia, 2009.

Teaching Providential History, by Rosalie J. Slater, edited by Carole Adams, Foundation for American Christian Education, Chesapeake, Virginia, 2010.

The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States of America: Christian Self-Government, compiled by Verna M. Hall, Foundation for American Christian Education, Chesapeake, Virginia, (Founders Edition 2006).