Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Remembering the Mayflower Compact

As Thanksgiving approaches, some of us traditionalists think back to the harrowing experiences of the first English settlers in what is now the United States. My first ancestor to reach America's shore, George Aldrich, came here somewhere between 1628 and 1631 (I've seen various dates), after the initial wave of so-called Pilgrims in the early 1620's.

Of course we all know of the Mayflower, the most famous of Pilgrim ships. What doesn't seem to get much attention in post-modern America is the Mayflower Compact, the first governing document of the British colonies. It's a beautiful expression of their loyalty to God as well as king and country.

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, 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.
For me this is a good reminder of the religious foundations of this great nation.

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