There were 102 passengers on the Mayflower. 50 men, 19
women, 33 young adults and children; of those, only 41 were religious separatists
seeking independence from the Church of England. The others who weren’t a part
of those seeking independence were considered common folk, who they called “strangers.”
Seeking to escape religious persecution, these Pilgrims signed a contract with the
London Virginia Company to finance their expenditure and ultimately settle near
the Hudson River in Virginia. However, the Mayflower landed in Massachusetts
instead of Virginia. Discord immediately began over the veracity of the London
Virginia Company contract, and some felt that as the Mayflower had landed
outside their territory, the contract was void.
Pilgrim leaders on the Mayflower wanted to quell the
rebellion before it could spiral out of control. The establishment of a New
World colony would be strenuous enough without disagreements among the
settlers. Thus, the Mayflower Compact was drafted and signed aboard the
Mayflower on November 21, 1620. Modeled after a Separatist covenant, they
created a plantation covenant that established a temporary government until another
could be permanently established. It brought principles of a self-governing
body that wasn’t yet completely separate from the King of England. The
principles in the Mayflower Compact made a significant contribution to the
creation of a new democratic nation.
The Mayflower Compact helped lay the foundation for the independence
of the United States today. A main concept derived from it was a governing law for
and by the people. It also created the idea of a social construct. What this
short document did was basically bind everybody into a single community, and by
signing the document, each signer agreed to join this community and be a part
of it. Without this document providing the binds that brought together the “strangers”
and the Pilgrims, these two groups would have likely fought for dominance,
ultimately destroying each other in the first few years of settlement.
All in all, the Mayflower Compact was a short document
written by those onboard the Mayflower to bind together the people and avoid
conflicts in their first years of settlement. The two large groups, the “strangers”
and the Pilgrims seeking to escape religious persecution would have likely fought
for dominance without this document, leading to the destruction of both groups.
The document helped lay the basic foundation for what would become an
independent nation in the future by establishing some of the main concepts of
democracy and social constructs. It was one of the first examples in American
history of self-governance, establishing their own government on foreign land.
It shows an example of determination in the face of adversity which helped set
a precedent for when the colonists rebelled against Britain.