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Mayflower Compact, 1620


In the absence of a royal charter, the Plymouth colonists initiated their organization of a government and legal structure by formulating a self-declared "combination" in which the necessity of forming a "civill body politick" was set forth. This "combination" was signed on November 11, 1620, by 41 adult men of the original settlers, and it provided a first step toward setting up a government which could claim legitimate authority to impose constraints on the conduct of Colony inhabitants. The declarations of the Plymouth Colony government would later cite this combination, the land patents received from the New England Council (a private corporation established by the Crown), and the settlers' pursuit of the greater "glory of God" as the foundations for the Plymouth government's authority in issuing laws to govern the colony and manage an expanding settlement over the years.

Mayflower Compact

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.
Mr. John Carver
Mr. William Bradford
Mr Edward Winslow
Mr. William Brewster
Isaac Allerton
Myles Standish
John Alden
John Turner
Francis Eaton
James Chilton
John Craxton
John Billington
Joses Fletcher
John Goodman
Mr. Samuel Fuller
Mr. Christopher Martin
Mr. William Mullins
Mr. William White
Mr. Richard Warren
John Howland
Mr. Steven Hopkins
Digery Priest
Thomas Williams
Gilbert Winslow
Edmund Margesson
Peter Brown
Richard Britteridge
George Soule
Edward Tilly
John Tilly
Francis Cooke
Thomas Rogers
Thomas Tinker
John Ridgdale
Edward Fuller
Richard Clark
Richard Gardiner
Mr. John Allerton
Thomas English
Edward Doten
Edward Liester

Source: Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and other Organic Laws of the States, Territories, and Colonies Now or Heretofore Forming the United States of America, compiled and edited under the Act of Congress of June 30, 1906, by Francis Newton Thorpe, Washington, D.C.

Go to Yale University's Avalon Project for similar colonial charters and land patents. Our thanks to the Project for presenting this instrument from the public records, which we include here for access by our search engine.

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