Ron Collins: “The Overview of Pilgrims.” MayflowerFamilies.com www.mayflowerfamilies.com/colonial_life/pilgrims.htm. Imagine the situation: more than 100 people, cut off from any government, with a rebellion coming. Only a firm determination would help the pilgrims to land and establish their colony. If they didn`t work in groups, they could all die in the wild. The pilgrims realized that they needed a temporary government agency. Back in the homeland, this authority came from the king. Isolated as in America, it could only come from men themselves. On board the Mayflower, pilgrims and “Strangers” necessarily made a written agreement or made it compact to each other. The Mayflower Compact was probably composed by William Brewster, who had a university education, and was signed by almost all adult male settlers, including two of the arrived servants. The format of the Mayflower Compact is very similar to the written agreements used by pilgrims to found their separatist churches in England and Holland. As part of these agreements, the adult male members of each Church decided how they wanted to worship God. They also elected their own officials and other Church officers.
This model of ecclesiastical autonomy served as a model of political autonomy in the Mayflower Pact. The settlers had no intention of declaring their independence from England when they signed the Mayflower Compact. In the opening line of the Compact, Pilgrims and “Strangers” call themselves “loyal subjects” of King James. The rest of the Mayflower Compact is very short. He simply implicated the signatories in a “civil body policy” to pass “fair and equal laws.” for the good of the colony. But these few words expressed, for the first time in the New World, the idea of self-management. The agreement was also based on the secular tradition of the social contract, the idea of alliances between men themselves, which date back to antiquity, but which were later made famous by philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In 1802, in Plymouth, future President John Quincy Adams stressed the enduring importance of the agreement signed more than 180 years earlier aboard the Mayflower, citing it “perhaps the only example in human history of this positive and original social pact, which speculative philosophers presented as the only legitimate source of government.” The Mayflower Compact as an agreement writes signatories “in the presence of God and the other covenant and unite us with a civil policy” (Pilgrim Hall Museum 2001). By signing on the Mayflower Pact, the pilgrims made an alliance with God and together in the colony. John Winthrop (1630), the first governor of Massachusetts, reflected this concept in his homily to other Puritans: the 1620 agreement (for the first time called the Mayflower Pact) was a legal instrument that brought pilgrims together when they arrived in New England. The central members of the group of pilgrims` immigrants were separatists, members of a Puritan sect that had separated from the Church of England, the only legal church in England at the time.