Signed November 11, 1620
The Mayflower Compact was the first formal framework of government established in what is now the United States of America.
The concept of “just and equal laws for the general good” was embodied in the document, which was signed on board the Mayflower shortly after it arrived in Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod. The Pilgrims intended to settle in northern Virginia but instead made landfall far north of that.
An argument broke out among the 102 passengers when the Mayflower dropped anchor. Several of the Pilgrims on board argued that since the Cape Cod area was outside their intended destination (land controlled by the King), English laws did not apply.
The Pilgrim leaders thus drafted the Mayflower Compact to establish basic order in their new land. The document was a formal attempt to establish a legally binding self-governing body.
A century later, another group of men were united by self-evident truths that “all men are created equal” and they wrote a document that began with the words “We the People” – the United States Constitution.