Forty-one men aboard the Mayflower drafted and signed the Mayflower Compact on November 11, 1620. As the settlers arrived in Cape Cod after their long journey, they realized that the Saints and the Strangers would need to agree on common rules and authority before starting a colony. This document temporarily established a government for the travellers until they received an official patent from the Council of New England. Though the Mayflower Compact only remained effective for a short time, its lasting influence shows through in both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
”the only instance in human history of that positive, original, social compact”—John Quincy Adams on the Mayflower Compact, 1802
”In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten … doe by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civill body politick…
Though the actual document has been lost, we have a handwritten copy by William Bradford with its exact language.
Rough seas caused the Mayflower to land north of its original destination and outside of English control. If they had landed in English territory, the document never would have been needed.
Each man on board was required to sign the Mayflower Compact before disembarking from the ship.
Many of the people we met in Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact, such as William Bradford, William Brewster, and Myles Standish.