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Squeeze In A Bit Of American History At The Dinner Table

In between snippets of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, football, turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pies, more turkey and a second helping of pumpkin pie - this time without the whipped cream (I'm watching my girlish figure, thank you very much), you may give a moment or two of thought to the Pilgrims. 

Together with Massasoit and Wampanog American Indians, they are after all the reason for the season.  At least this season, that is. 

When your mind wanders to the feast they had in Plymouth, you may not have given much thought to America's first set of imported laws.  That's right.  We have our own Magna Carta, sort of.

It's called the Mayflower Compact.  MIPTC reproduces it's text here so you can give the kids a quiz on it at the dinner table and make sure they've earned their American History Points For The Day. 

"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 England, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, e&.  Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the 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 Politick, 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 hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, King James of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini, 1620."

The document was signed by 41 of the 102 passengers, 37 of whom were Separatists fleeing religious persecution in Europe. This compact established the first basis in the new world for written laws. Half of the colony failed to survive the first winter, but the remainder lived on and prospered.  Although the Mayflower is commonly known as America's first constitution, it's more of a covenant among the settlors to obey the people that will govern the colony. 

But it was a start, and a start on the long road to 1776.  We thank the Pilgrims for showing us road to democracy.  They celebrated that auspicious beginning with a feast, welcoming the original Americans and everyone's family members.  We can do the same again.

MIPTC wishes you a prosperous year and a Happy Thanksgiving to you, too. 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, November 23, 2006 at 10:01 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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