Mayflower Compact

They were sailing to Virginia, but God diverted them north. When they arrived, some of the passengers said they could go wherever they pleased. The Pilgrim leaders knew they needed unity to be strong and safe in the New World. They immediately took charge by giving strong decisive leadership.

The Pilgrims took charge immediately and drew up the Mayflower Compact – a document which pledged they would govern themselves by abiding to God's laws.

Some felt they didn't have to honor the papers they signed because they were outside Virginia. They were in New England. The Pilgrims would not allow for mutiny or disunity. They formed a hasty conference. They borrowed Captain Jones’s cabin. William Brewster brought his writing materials. Those who plotted mutiny could hear their voices and the scrabble of a quill pen. Then the Pilgrims gathered the other men.

One book says, "The reading of the Compact was followed by tense discussion.  John Carver was the first to step up and sign.  The leading Saints followed him.  There was a long pause.  Would the Strangers accept the agreement?  The fate of the settlement hung on their decision."

"With the rattle of his saber, Captain Myles Standish rose up to his full height and then marched to the front of the cabin and set his name down on the side of law and order.  Everyone breathed easier.  The most prosperous of the Strangers followed him."  And then the rest signed.

The minority, as usual in history, dominated the majority.  Their unity and strength influenced all the rest to sign it. This small minority group had clear vision and unity that gave them the power to guide the majority. The Mayflower Compact was a document signed for unity under God. It was a document of unification.

The agreement the Pilgrims signed was not with the Virginia Company – a Royal charter. Their agreement was only a business contract in which the financiers had no authority to promulgate ordinances and decrees or to appoint the governor of the colony. So the Pilgrims at Plymouth could invent their own politics. It is significant that the first governor of Plymouth was the first governor in history to be chosen by democratic means in a free election. Of all the political systems, God is for democracy.

The word covenant was a commonly used word at the founding of our nation. In the case of the Pilgrims it meant a solemn agreement between God and an individual. The founding Pilgrims were Biblicists who knew God obeyed his side of an agreement. Deuteronomy 7:9 says: "Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations." God's people are supposed to build for a thousand generations.  We are supposed to look far into the future and build an empire for God.  Rev. Moon does this.

The fundamental reason America has become so prosperous is because of the covenant of our forefathers. Before the Pilgrims set one foot in the New World they drew up a covenant before God. Before launching their colony they recognized God's sovereignty. They joined with God; they obeyed God. The Mayflower Compact begins in big bold letters "In the Name of God, Amen." They took this vow seriously and other colonies in this new Eden did so as we moved toward nationhood. Prof. Andrew McLaughlin in Foundations of American Constitutionalism writes, "... the word 'covenant' and its significance will appear over and over again as we trace the development of America’s constitutional history.…"

Our forefathers made covenants with God, and America needs to restore, revive and reaffirm those contracts. God has not changed, but many Americans have forgotten our agreement with God.

The Mayflower Compact



"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, etc."

"Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and 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 of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, 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 hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini 1620."

Bradford then makes a comment that the strangers always complained (Bradford, like all spiritual pioneers has to listen to complaining like Moses did), but the strength of character of the Pilgrims kept them in line: "In these hard and difficult beginnings they found some discontents and murmurings arise amongst some, and mutinous speeches and carriages in other; but they were soon quelled and overcome by the wisdom, patience, and just and equal carriage of things, by the Governor and better part, which clave faithfully together in the main."

In The Mayflower Compact Frank Donovan writes, "the Compact was an extraordinary document for its day, in that it set forth revolutionary new principles.  It was a milestone on the long, hard, bloody road from feudalism and the rule of an aristocracy that had dominated the people of the Old World for centuries.  It is more remarkable for the attitudes, the beliefs, the ideas, the state of mind -- call it what you will -- of the men who brought it into being than for what is specifically says."

"The key words are, 'to combine ourselves together into a civil body politic ... to enact ... just and equal laws.'  This was the first simple and direct written expression in recorded history of what the French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau would call the 'social contract' theory of government, the theory on which the government of the United States is based."

"Under the social contract theory of government, laws are not made, nor are the lives of the people ordered, by kings or nobles or appointed counsels, or by a dictatorship of any class or individual.  ... At the time the Compact was written such a concept of government was completely radical.  There were no such governments in the Old World."

"Another revolutionary principle in the Compact, for the times, is expressed in the words 'just and equal laws.'  There had been just laws in England since the time of the Magna Carta, but nowhere in the Old World were there equal laws, at least in their application.  The law was one thing for the poor and underprivileged, another for the rich and well born.  There were records of poor children in England who were hung for the minor theft of a silver spoon or a watch.  But no noble's son was ever hung, or even punished by the law, for such an offense."

Democracy vs. Theocracy

God was behind this budding democracy.  He wanted America to be democratic.  And God wants his future ideal world to be democratic and free.  The Puritans came 10 years after the Pilgrims and created a theocracy.  Unfortunately America, in the 20th century, has given government too much power to regulate lives, just as the Puritans did.  There are harsh penalties for victimless crimes.  This is not God's way.  The Pilgrims could be harsh sometimes, as was the world they lived in.  But they were far less harsh than the Puritans.  America should return to its roots of freedom from heavy government.  There are a number of books out that fear Rev. Moon, thinking he will oppress people as the Puritans did when he or his church gains control.  The world should not fear Rev. Moon.  He is for the use of persuasion, not force, even for what is considered sinful acts.  Ironically, some who fear the most use violence against him and his followers such as using forceful kidnapping of adult members called by the misnomer "deprogramming."  God's way is not to initiate force and for the use of maximum freedom. Those members of his movement who advocate government regulations of such things as guns, prostitution, drugs, pornography, etc. are only being in the Cain tradition of the Puritans.  This is a vast topic and I discuss this fully in my book The Keys to Building the Ideal World.

Just because they wrote and signed the Compact did not mean that there was unity.  The first few months at Plymouth were horrendous and the stress was overwhelming.  Some people were not very patient and godly but the Pilgrims were magnificent in calming the majority.

First Exploration

When the Pilgrims reached Cape Cod they thanked God for making it over the ocean.  They were eager "again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth."

The Pilgrims had brought along a few small boats and a large boat called a shallop to be used for exploring the shore line.  The very first landing party, the first expedition to explore the coast was 16 men with musket, sword and armor led by a military man, Captain Myles Standish. 16 men – a providential number. In the Korean War 16 nations fought against communist aggression.

They saw 5 or 6 Indians who fled when they saw the Pilgrims.  Standish, always fearless and aggressive, ran after them.  The swift running Indians disappeared into the woods.

God’s Gift

They roamed around the area and came across a heap of sand. They dug into it and found to their amazement ten large baskets of yellow, red, and blue maize Indian seed corn Indians had left. Without it they would not have survived. The following spring the kernels were used for seed. Those 10 baskets were not there by chance.  He did his best to give them the means to survive. Nothing was by coincidence. God was working very closely with them. They knew this was a special providence of God.

Bradford writes, "We had, in all, about ten bushels which will serve us sufficiently for, seed ... it was God's good providence that we found this corn, for else we know not how we should have done." We cannot imagine the terror and soul-searing experience of being alone in a savage wilderness and the feelings of awe and gratitude at how mysteriously God worked in their lives.

They put the corn into the common store "to be kept for seed". The Pilgrims were correct in seeing everything as an intervention of God or Satan. They all knew that this seed corn was a special providence of God. They knew that God was intimately involved all day long in their daily lives.

Bradford said that when the search party brought some of the colorful seed corn back to the ship it made everyone happy.  He couldn't help but compare their little band of men to the spies Moses sent into Canaan:  "Like the men Moses sent to spy out the land of Canaan, they brought with them fruits of the country and showed their brethren. The corn and their safe return made the people marvelously glad, and their hearts encouraged."

God was a partner who they naturally spoke to and offered everything to all day long. God was not distant to them but intimately helping and guiding and even testing them every moment. They understood that a religious way of life is ascetic, sacrificial, and selfless.

Second Expedition

Bradford wrote that not only was it a miracle they found the corn but when they came back later on the 2nd expedition, it had snowed and they saw that they would never had seen the corn if they had come just one day later. They landed just in the nick of time. He wrote: "And here is to be noted a special providence of God, and a great mercy to this poor people, that here they got seed to plant them corn the next year, or else they might have starved, for they had none nor any likelihood to get any till the season had been past, as the sequel did manifest. Neither is it likely they had had this, if the first voyage had not been made, for the ground was now all covered with snow and hard frozen; but the Lord is never wanting unto His in their greatest needs; let His holy name have all the praise."

Several historians criticize Bradford and the others for taking the corn.  Bradford Smith in his book, Bradford of Plymouth, writes, "Then, with a lack of regard for Indian property which has all too often been the white man's way of introducing himself to a native race" ... "purloined" the corn. Those historians who criticize the Pilgrims for this are wrong.  Bradford writes that they had every intention of paying for the corn, and he says they did so six months later to the satisfaction of the Indians.  If we see these Pilgrims from God's eyes, then it was clearly a gift from God.  I have already wrote of how we are to see the relationship between the white man and the Indian earlier.

Third and final Expedition

After the second exploration they felt that they needed to make a third one and search farther up the coast until they found the right spot to build their community.  They had to wait for a while until the shallop got repairs.  Finally they set out and went up the coast.  Once they saw about a dozen Indians.  At night they would make a shelter out of logs and pine boughs and took turns as sentries.  One morning at five o'clock they were attacked.  They had just finished prayers (which the men always did every morning and evening) and were preparing breakfast and loading the shallop.  Arrows whizzed around them.  There was terrifying blood curdling screams from the Indians.  After a fierce exchange, the Indians retreated.  Standish took some of the men and chased after them into the woods about a quarter of a mile.  They shouted at the Indians to show them that they were "not afraid of them or any way discouraged." When they came back they were all amazed to see that their coats had been hanging in the barricade and were riddled with arrows and many arrows lying all around.  Miraculously no one had even a scratch and they prayed and thanked God for their deliverance.

They continued on their search for the best place to build their community.  As they traveled in the shallop they encountered foul weather - rain and snow, and then there rudder was lost in the stormy, rough sea. Edward Winslow wrote that "the water froze on our clothes, and made them like coats of iron." They struggled with oars to guide the boat.  When they raised the sail it broke into three pieces and they almost capsized.  They were in a very dangerous situation.  Even their eyelids were almost froze shut.  Some men fainted from the cold and strain.  Then they had to wade to shore which caused them to get wet in the icy waters from the waist down and this made them even cough more.  Many became "sick unto death."  Bradford said that this was where many of the men took "the original of their death here."  They finally got a fire going in spite of the downpour, the wind and the wet tinder.

After exploring the area for days they finally decided on Plymouth because there were cleared cornfields "that had been abandoned for several years" and ready for tillage, and the absence of Indians. Bradford writes, "On Monday they sounded the harbor and found it fit for shipping, and marched into the land and found divers cornfields and little running brooks, a place (as they supposed) fit for situation. At least it was the best they could find, and the season and their present necessity made them glad to accept of it. So they returned to their ship again with this news to the rest of their people, which did much comfort their hearts."

Bradford’s wife

When the search party returned, Bradford was given the sad news that his wife Dorothy had died while he was discovering Plymouth. Tragically his wife had died in a fall overboard and  drowned before even setting foot in America. Many historians believe she committed suicide. Bradford mentions it only briefly and never writes of his wife again. If she did commit suicide it would have been a great disgrace. They did not believe in suicide. It was a great sin. True religious people understand that suicide is very wrong.

On the Sunday before they entered Plymouth they rested to honor the Sabbath and prayed and dried out their guns.  They were men of God, and it is God's will that godly men use guns when necessary.  There is truth in the famous saying: "Put your trust in God; but mind to keep your powder dry."

One night while the Mayflower was tossing and rolling and straining at her anchors in the middle of a fierce storm, Mary Allerton, wife of Isaac the tailor, delivered a son "but dead born."