This weekend following the Thanksgiving holiday has unique traditions: Black Friday, football, and delicious leftovers. But in our celebration, we should not forget an important event that occurred 400 years ago this month.
In 1620, 41 passengers of the Mayflower ship entered into an agreement that would eventually govern themselves at Plymouth Colony. These individuals are well known to us as the “Puritans” who fled religious persecution during the reign of King James of England.
The brave souls who sailed across the Atlantic and established a foothold in the New World developed an amazing document, the Mayflower Compact. In this contract, the Puritans pledged loyalty to the King and the advancement of their faith. Equally important, they agreed to “covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation…and 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.”
Although half the signatories would be deceased within a year, this Compact withstood such challenges and became one of the first acts of democracy on our continent (subsequent to the Iroquois Confederation). Indeed, this began the radical thought process that laws and taxes cannot be imposed without consent.
Several important publications (i.e. Wall Street Journal, History.com, etc.) recently noted this anniversary. But much about the Mayflower Compact has been overshadowed by the elections, pandemic, and the economy. However, prior leaders have acknowledged this historic president.
In 1920, at the tricentennial of the event, President Calvin Coolidge deliver to speech
honoring the Puritans as the authors of this important document. He declared the Compact” was an event of the greatest importance. It was the foundation of liberty based on law and order, … it was democratic and they had a power and strength of character abide by it.”
The Wall Street Journal noted that the Compact was truly egalitarian. While the Magna Carta is famous, it was penned by elite nobles. Conversely, both the wealthy and their servants signed the accord on the Mayflower.
Their courage and vision built the democracy and economy we enjoy today.
The nation and fellow Americans are facing many challenges. But our Republic and people will overcome all of them. We can thank that future success from the past endeavors of the small group of people who executed the Mayflower Compact, and then dedicated their lives to its ideals.
Please remember this when re-warming the stuffing and finishing off the pumpkin pie.