Few efforts at colonization faced bleaker prospects than those of the Pilgrims as they faced a bleak starving winter in a howling wilderness in November 1620. It was therefore remarkable that they drafted an act to govern what all too many of them probably feared would be a settlement with the briefest of existences. It showed hope for the future and a determination to prevail against all odds. Here is the text of the Mayflower Compact:
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, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the 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 another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, 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 hereunto subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini; 1620.
Within a year, half of the Pilgrims in Plymouth Colony would be dead of disease and starvation, but the Pilgrims did not give up. They had established their home in the New World at a dreadful cost, they would never give it up and they would prevail. We recall the Mayflower Compact, not only for its words, but for the raw unyielding courage that made it much more than an empty document written by a group of ill-prepared colonists.