Mayflower Compact (1620)
William Bradford wrote the Mayflower Compact while the Mayflower was anchored at Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In this document, the passengers declared their intention to start the “first colony in the northern parts of Virginia.” They stated that they had now covenanted and combined themselves into a society for their “better Ordering and Preservation.” They pledged to institute “just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices… as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.” Forty-one of the 102 passengers signed the Mayflower Compact.
The Mayflower Compact was based on Biblical covenanting tradition. It also stressed the civic values of justice, equality, and responsibility. While not a governing document, it was the first basis for written laws in the colonies, and expressed the necessity of consent of the governed. In these ways, the Mayflower Compact is a precursor to the Constitution.