Learn American History through 50 pop songs

Mayflower Compact

Synopsis

The Mayflower Compact was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony. It was written by the colonists who crossed the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower. It was signed on November 11, 1620 by 41 of the ship's more than one hundred passengers, in what is now Provincetown Harbor near Cape Cod. The Mayflower Compact was in essence a social contract in which the settlers consented to follow the compact's rules and regulations for the sake of survival.

Lyrics

© Copyright 2010 by Mr. and Mrs. Gillenwater

A dark and rocking ship through cold black waters slip
So slow do pass the hours on the Mayflower, oh, oh, oh, oh

They left for Godly reasons when the Church of England screamed out “treason!”
1620 was the year and now Massachusetts neared

But as they looked out at Plymouth Rock they thought “before we dock”
“We should come up with some laws that will serve us all
The task before us isn’t small”

A dark and rocking ship through cold black waters slip
So slow do pass the hours on the Mayflower, oh, oh, oh, oh

So the white men aboard the boat sat down and took some notes
About some different ways to run without the powers of just one

They new the problem they would bring if they continued the Divine Rights of Kings
So they conceived of a novel plan, majority will rule – not a single man

A dark and rocking ship through cold black waters slip
So slow do pass the hours on the Mayflower, oh, oh, oh, oh

They drew it up and then signed the deed and thus these Pilgrims agreed
To a new kind of social contract known as the Mayflower Compact

A dark and rocking ship through cold black waters slip
So slow do pass the hours on the Mayflower, oh, oh, oh, oh

Vocabulary

Mayflower Compact— A document drafted 1620 aboard the Mayflower as the Pilgrims docked in Massachusetts. It was the first agreement for self-government in America. It was signed by the 41 men on the Mayflower and set up a government for the Plymouth colony

The Mayflower— Ship which carried the Pilgrims across the Atlantic Ocean from England to North America and eventually docked at Plymouth Rock.

Plymouth Rock— The traditional site of the landing of the Mayflower.

Pilgrims— A Separatist group who broke from the Church of England and in 1620 sailed to the ‘New World’ on the Mayflower, landing in Massachusetts Bay.

Divine Rights of Kings— Laws which evolved in Europe during the Middle Ages and claimed that kings were answerable only to God and it was therefore sinful for their subjects to resist them.

Tiered Questions

Tier 1 Questions

What year did the Mayflower arrive at Plymouth Rock?

What do you think this line means: “Majority will rule, not a single man”?

Tier 2 Questions

Why did the Pilgrims decide to write some laws before they docked?

Tier 3 Questions

Compare and contrast the divine rights of kings and majority rule.

Why do you think it was important for the Pilgrims to create the Mayflower Compact before they docked? What could have happened if they had not?

Test Prep Questions

1) The Mayflower Compact, New England town meetings, and the Virginia House of Burgesses are examples of

  • (1) early colonial efforts in self-government
  • (2) colonial protests against British taxation
  • (3) governments imposed by Parliament
  • (4) attempts to limit democracy

2) The Mayflower Compact and the Virginia House of Burgesses are examples of

  • (1) equal opportunities for women during the colonial period
  • (2) steps toward representative government
  • (3) economic agreements between the colonists and Native American Indians
  • (4) limitations placed on colonial Americans by the British government

3) The Mayflower Compact, House of Burgesses, and Fundamental Orders of Connecticut are all examples of the efforts of colonial Americans to

  • (1) use democratic practices in government
  • (2) protest British land policies
  • (3) establish religious freedom
  • (4) overthrow British royal governors