The Mayflower Compact, a document signed by the passengers of the English ship the Mayflower in November 1620, established that those who came to shore together agreed to abide by the laws and government they would establish for the good of the colony. Almost all male passengers signed this document before they got off the ship.
Although the original destination of the Mayflower was the colony of Virginia, the ship was blown off course and landed at Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Because this was outside the jurisdiction of the charter they had received from the Virginia Company, they created the Mayflower Compact to preserve unity within their group. Of the 102 men, women and children on the ship, 41 men signed the accord, among them Miles Standish and John Alden. They named the new colony Plymouth after the port in England from which they departed. After signing the agreement, the colonists chose John Carver as their first governor.
The original Mayflower Compact was lost, but a number of versions exist in texts from the 17th century. Though these versions have slight differences in spelling, punctuation and capitalization, the wording is similar. The document was the first written affirmation of government in what later became the United States. It had a significant impact on those who wrote the U.S. Constitution.