In the midst of all of the Thanksgiving preparations and festivities, many people are unaware of the true reason the Pilgrims fled their native land and came to what they called "the new world." Afraid of the increasing oppression by the English king on their way of life and their beliefs, they were determined to locate to a place where they could worship God freely and raise their children to honor Him. While Holland was a temporary haven for them, certain influences of the country and its people caused the Pilgrims concern and so they risked everything and came to the American colonies, (their original destination was Virginia) hoping to establish a place of spiritual refuge for themselves and future generations. Of course, they never dreamt at the time that they would sow the seeds of a future nation on the shores of Massachusetts. But as history shows, that is exactly what happened. Soon after arriving in the "new world," they drafted up a document that spelled out the guidelines for their new colony. Most people are not even familiar with this document but it is one of the best examples of early American faith and liberty known to mankind. Here now for your perusing is 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, etc.
Having undertaken for the glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern part 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 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 which we have hereunto 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, Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-forth, 1620."
Of special note for me personally, one of my ancestors actually came to the New world and settled in Plymouth a mere sixteen years after the landing of the Pilgrims and was able to partake in the freedoms already established in the new colony. We owe much to this hearty band of brave souls who feared God enough to undertake such an task for the greater good of themselves and subsequent generations.
* The term "dread sovereign" referred to in the document was an old term for expressing awe and reverence for the king as God's earthly magistrate and ruler.