Here in 21st century America we know that the fourth Thursday of November is always Thanksgiving. Today, it has turned into more the start of the drawn out holiday shopping season and less a commemoration of the Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower who landed on Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts in 1620.
What do we really know about the Pilgrims? Were they just about funny little hats, turkeys and native American neighbors? Not really. From the moment they set foot on these shores they knew that law and order would be the foundation for the New World and they immediately drafted what has become known as the “Mayflower Compact.”
The Pilgrims were actually a breakaway group of Puritans from the Church of England and came to America by way of Holland. Their Christian beliefs were the cornerstone for the plan they envisioned for their New World. These Separatists knew that earlier colonists had failed because there was no order and the Pilgrims were determined to succeed. They wasted no time organizing themselves and The Mayflower Compact was signed the day they landed in November 1620. It was the first governing document of the new Plymouth Colony and a precursor to our Constitution.
Although the original Compact has long since been lost, hand-written translations by Plymouth Governor of the time, William Bradford (a signer of the original document), and others seem to agree that the Pilgrims essentially signed an oath of allegiance to King James, advancing their Christian faith. All 41 men aboard the Mayflower signed the new law, vowing to “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.”
If it was not for their brave efforts to cross a rough sea into unchartered territory and create “one nation under God,” we would not be here. Maybe we should all reflect on how lucky we are and give thanks to our true founding fathers for a nation many of us have come to take for granted. Happy Thanksgiving and blessings from God to all.