In England the only official religion was the Church of England. Puritans wanted to leave England to have religious freedom and were granted the right to settle in the colony of Virginia. The Mayflower left England but had to turn back two times since the ship which it was sailing with leaked. A violent storm broke one of the beams that supported the ship, but it was repaired with a great iron screw.
Partially because of their difficulties they landed well north of their original destination. Since this was outside of any English colony, some of the settlers felt as if they would not be bound by the laws of England, but would be free to pursue their own liberty. William Bradford, the head of the Separatists, drew up the Mayflower Compact and it was signed by most of the adult males on board.
The compact didn’t establish rules or ordinances, but it stated that all would abide by whatever rules were established for the colony. This was also important since not all of the Pilgrims were Separatists; some still belonged to the Church of England. The colonist headed up the coast from where they had landed and established a town where some Native Americans had lived. The Native Americans had almost all died from sickness. The colonists built their houses while living on the ship. They didn’t finish until the next spring, at which time the Mayflower left for England.
The Mayflower Compact has been seen as an important document in defining the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. While many presidents have declared days of thanksgiving to commemorate the Pilgrims and our heritage, It was Abraham Lincoln who declared an official date for the celebration of Thanksgiving. Some have speculated that he did it to help promote the idea of America as a unified nation.
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Thank you for reading.