The Mayflower Compact
The passengers on the Mayflower had received a patent (a permit to do business) authorizing them to establish a colony somewhere south of Long Island Sound. When they arrived at Cape Cod and found themselves without a warrant for their settlement, the men on board signed a “combination,” what became known as the Mayflower Compact. They bound themselves into a single company, a “civil body politic” that would function as a civil and economic unit until they could request a new patent for their colony. The original Compact is lost. Mourt’s Relation, an account of the early days of the colony, is the earliest surviving document containing its text.