Was the Mayflower's really a social contract?

Jul 2017
335
Argentina
#1
Perhaps some of you have researched and studied what really happened on the Mayflower, who these people on board were, what expectations they had for when they arrived in North America.

Could it be true that they unanimously agreed a set of rules for their coexistence in the new colony they were about to create?

Could it be possible that this group of rules was intended to be the foundation of the legal system of a new community that would be born at that very moment?

With these questions I do not pretend a philosophical type of discussion such as what is a legal system, what is a constitution, what is a contract.

I intend to understand the historical aspect. What was the content of that contract? What did these people pretend?

Since I’m from Argentina, I’ll also put it in spanish.

Quizás algunos de ustedes hayan investigado y estudiado lo que verdaderamente sucedió en el Mayflower, quiénes eran las personas a bordo, qué expectativas tenían para cuando llegaran a norte América.

¿Puede ser verdad que acordaron por unanimidad ciertas reglas para su convivencia en la nueva colonia que formarían?

¿Puede ser que ese grupo de reglas estaba destinado a ser el fundamento del sistema legal de una nueva comunidad que nacería en ese mismo momento?

Con estas preguntas no pretendo una discusión de tipo filosófica como qué es un sistema legal, qué es una constitución, qué es un contrato.

Pretendo entender el aspecto histórico. ¿Cuál era el contenido de ese contrato? ¿Qué pretendían esas personas?
 
Apr 2009
4,428
Alabama, USA
#2
From what I gather, the Pilgrims from the Mayflower were fleeing Europe due to religious persecution (they were Puritans if I'm not mistaken.) The compact, known as the Mayflower Compact was their attempt at establishing some sense of law and order in their new colony. I mean, here they are going to an entirely new spot on Earth that no man (outside the Natives, of course) had ever gone to before. They no doubt wanted to come up with a few ground rules for how things were going to go.

I don't think they were pretending anything, they were just attempting to figure out how they could govern themselves.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayflower_Compact
 
Jul 2017
335
Argentina
#3
Hey H Freak.
Thanks for reading my question.
May if they were trying create new civil rules (besides their religious rules) to start from zero and create a governmen for themselves.... may be that's a social contract.
 
Jul 2012
4,379
Here
#4
Perhaps some of you have researched and studied what really happened on the Mayflower, who these people on board were, what expectations they had for when they arrived in North America.

Could it be true that they unanimously agreed a set of rules for their coexistence in the new colony they were about to create?

Could it be possible that this group of rules was intended to be the foundation of the legal system of a new community that would be born at that very moment?

With these questions I do not pretend a philosophical type of discussion such as what is a legal system, what is a constitution, what is a contract.

I intend to understand the historical aspect. What was the content of that contract? What did these people pretend?
I see you saying that you are not starting a philosophic discussion, but I don't see how your question can be answered without one. So I'll briefly say this...

In political philosophy there is a concept of a "social contract." It began in Europe just after the Pilgrims landed. The basic idea is "why do people, instead of living as completely free individuals, bind themselves to a political entity?"

Since the Mayflower Compact says "[We] covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; 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...

So the Pilgrims, by submitting to a government for the general good of the colony, instead of each acting in his own unqualified self-interest, I would say yes, the Mayflower Compact is very much a "social contract."

Here is an article on the philosophic concept of a social contract...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_contract
 
Last edited:
Jul 2017
335
Argentina
#5
Hey Jax.
Great reply. Thanks.
I just asked a couple of questions about facts (or about what can be known so many years after). With the idea that known what happened, each one makes own conclussion about it.
 
Jul 2012
4,379
Here
#6
Hey Jax.
Great reply. Thanks.
I just asked a couple of questions about facts (or about what can be known so many years after). With the idea that known what happened, each one makes own conclussion about it.
Yeah, at times I thought you were just concerned with what happened, but you also kept mentioning a "social contract" and I wasn't sure why. The only common use of the phrase "social contract" I know of is the one I gave you.
I think if you mean something other than that, and want an answer to your title question "Was the Mayflower's really a social contract?", you're going to have to define what you mean by social contract or the question cannot be answered.

Otherwise, there is quite a bit known about the Pilgrims. If you just want to know what happened, I recommend reading this. Its very good.

https://www.amazon.com/Mayflower-St...qid=1501810222&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=mayfower
 
Apr 2009
4,428
Alabama, USA
#7
Hey H Freak.
Thanks for reading my question.
May if they were trying create new civil rules (besides their religious rules) to start from zero and create a governmen for themselves.... may be that's a social contract.
Might have been a little of both -- I mean, outside their religious rules they'd have to figure out who's gonna be the leader, how the money thing's gonna work, how the law's gonna be enforced.

For me, a social contract in this context is basically laying down how the law (both religious and otherwise) would work so in some sense, yes, the Compact was a social contract that all the men signed.
 

Similar History Discussions