Our Documents of Freedom Week started on Sunday—leading into July 4th for the big doc. This is an excellent opportunity for my kids to do a whole lot of eye-rolling and groaning about how they’re the “ONLY ONES” (very common refrain over here) who have to read 400-year-old documents.
So, here’s the first doc: The Mayflower Compact: Signed November 11, 1620
One of these years, I’m going to back up to 1215 and read the Magna Carta, but the Mayflower Compact is nice and short which helps to lower the coefficient of freakout for family reading.
The original document was lost, but the transcriptions in Mourt's Relation and William Bradford's journal Of Plymouth Plantation are in agreement and accepted as accurate. Bradford's hand written manuscript is kept in a special vault at the State Library of Massachusetts. Bradford's transcription is as follows:
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.
Love that first sentence!