Anniversary Post: Mayflower Compact

Mayflower CompactOn this day in 1620, the Pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact. This was their way of creating a government to inflict their religious views on everyone, because they didn’t land where they were supposed to. And it was largely due to their religious intolerance that Massachusetts remained a backwater compared to more liberal places like Pennsylvania. It is funny that we still teach our children about the Plymouth Colony when there were several that were before it. And the Dutch settled in Pennsylvania shortly afterward, where things ran much more in keeping with what we now think of as American ideals.

But I bring it up because Wikipedia claims, “They were fleeing from religious persecution by King James of England.” Well, kind of. They fled persecution and went to Holland where they were free of persecution. Then they went back to England for cultural reasons and then left for America. The real issue is that they wanted freedom for their religion and persecution for everyone else’s. Within two generations, these great religious seekers passed the first punitive law against Quakers. Religious freedom my dull fleshy ass!

10 thoughts on “Anniversary Post: Mayflower Compact

  1. I wonder why we focus on Plymouth. Some possible reasons might be mythologizing of our “friendly” relations with Natives, or emphasizing our religious roots over our more profit-seeking ones. Or just pure dumb blind luck; it got lauded in a story somewhere and it caught the public imagination because of whatever.

    • Because it is a neat story. Neat as in uncluttered, not as in cool, or good.

      We were taught about Plymouth but most of us kids were more interested in messing with the paint to make the turkeys to take home to our parents for them to treasure forever our mucky little hands making a stupid looking turkey.

      • It’s strange. The Thanksgiving story is all but forgotten now (the version where natives and settlers met and shared a happy meal.) We tend to regard Thanksgiving as mostly food and football, as well we should (the food part at least) because the story is bunk. So clearly we can throw away some myths without anyone noticing much. Others we cling to quite desperately. I don’t understand why this is!

        • It is taught to kids but forgotten by the time they are adults unless they also have children. It is one of those harmless myths no one pays attention to except to teach kids to stop trying to kill each other for a few days.

        • It’s bunk that there was some big dinner. It wasn’t bunk that the natives saved the pilgrims’ lives during the winter and were paid back with smallpox. Or something like that.

          • Paid back by the Pilgrims grandchildren and the new colonists trying to exterminate them in King Phillip’s War and beyond. It took only fifty years for it to break down.

            • I have to admit, I don’t know a lot about it. I’ve spent a lot of time studying the earliest interactions between westerners and native peoples. It seems the Pilgrims weren’t that bad — compared to other groups. What I find interesting is that a lot of people make the argument that the Europeans were write to take over because different tribes were fighting with each other. But that was also true of the countries of Europe. But somehow the native tribes at war were worse. Generally, Americans only know what they learned in Hollywood movies. I recommend, Reel Indians.

              • My mother, who has done the DNA testing to say that yes, one of our female ancestors unsurprisingly had an affair with an Cherokee dude since her husband was a jerk and this was awesome revenge, has always been very into the native cultures so I learned most of what I know from her and the books she had.

                It focuses mostly on the Arizona tribes but I have learned a little bit about what happened back east. And what I remember is that it was the grandchildren and new settlers who suddenly had a problem with the natives in the region. They didn’t remember what it was like for their parents and were basically greedy assholes. So you know, not a lot has changed.

                • I have a special fondness for the Cherokee, because no tribe did more to get along with the US government and conform to its customs. And what it got was Andrew Jackson.

    • I think it is primary the mythology of America being based on religious liberty. It even works to take some of the sting out of slavery because, hey, the slaves might have been brutalized, but they were introduced to Christianity and now hanging out with Jesus. The Thanksgiving story is important too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *