The Pilgrims anchored outside Plymouth, Massachusetts sign the Mayflower Compact.
The Pilgrims fled England for the Netherlands to escape religious persecution from King James I. Afraid of losing their sense of society and culture, they arranged a deal with the London Company to establish a colony in Virginia. Bad weather during their voyage aboard the Mayflower found them at the tip of Massachusetts.
The Pilgrims decided to ignore their negotiations with the London Company and settle instead in Massachusetts. They assumed that they could live freely in New England and decided to draft a contract unifying the settlers and establishing themselves as "a civil body politic." John Carver became Plymouth Colony's first governor.
Some consider the Mayflower Compact to be the world's first written constitution and a precursor to American democracy.
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