EPTEMBER 16, 1620, according to the Gregorian Calendar, 102 passengers set sail on the Pilgrims' ship,
, with the blessings of their separatist pastor,
Their 66-day journey of 2,750 miles encountered storms so rough the beam supporting the main mast cracked and was propped back in place with "a great iron screw."
One youth, John Howland, was swept overboard by a freezing wave and rescued. His descendants include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Humphrey Bogart, Franklin D. Roosevelt and George W. Bush.
During the Pilgrims' voyage, a man died and a mother gave birth.
Intending to land in Virginia, they were blown off-course to Massachusetts.
With the weather too dangerous to sail, the captain insisted they disembark.
With no "king-appointed" person on board with authority to take charge, the Pilgrims gave themselves authority and created their own government--
The Mayflower Compact.
Where did they get this idea?
From their separatist
Pastor John Robinson
, considered one of the
founders of the Congregational Church
is prominently depicted kneeling in prayer in a painting in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda--
The Embarkation of the Pilgrims
Of the Pilgrims' landing at Plymouth, Massachusetts,
Governor William Bradford
"Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof,
again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element."
Though half died that first bitter winter,
Governor William Bradford
"Last and not least, they cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations ... for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world."
Franklin D. Roosevelt
stated October 28, 1936, regarding America's founding:
"Rulers ... increase their power over the common men. The seamen they sent to find gold found instead the way of escape for the common man from those rulers ...
What they found over the Western horizon was not the silk and jewels of Cathay but MANKIND'S SECOND CHANCE - a chance to create a new world after he had almost spoiled an old one ...
... The Almighty seems purposefully to have withheld that SECOND CHANCE until the time when men would most need and appreciate liberty ...
Those who came ... had courage ... to abandon language and relatives ... to start ... without influence, without money ...
Perhaps Providence did prepare this American continent to be a place of the SECOND CHANCE."
Bicentennial Celebration of the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, Secretary of State Daniel Webster
stated December 22, 1820:
"There is a ... sort of genius of the place, which ... awes us.
We feel that we are on the spot where the first scene of our history was laid; where the hearths and altars of New England were first placed; where Christianity, and civilization ... made their first lodgement, in a vast extent of country ...
'If God prosper us,' might have been the ... language of our fathers, when they landed upon this Rock, '... we shall here begin a work which shall last for ages ... We shall fill this region of the great continent ... with civilization and Christianity ..."
"The morning that beamed ... saw the Pilgrims already at home ... a government and a country were to commence, with the very first foundations laid under the divine light of the Christian religion ...
Our ancestors established their system of government on morality and religious sentiment ... Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.
Our fathers came here to enjoy their religion free and unmolested; and, at the end of two centuries, there is nothing upon which we can pronounce more confidently ... than of the inestimable importance of that religion to man ..."
added a rebuke:
"The African slave-trader is a pirate and a felon; and in the sight of Heaven, an offender far beyond the ordinary depth of human guilt ...
If there be ... any participation in this traffic, let us pledge ourselves here, upon the rock of Plymouth, to extirpate and destroy it ...
I invoke the ministers of our religion, that they proclaim its denunciation of these crimes
, and add its solemn sanctions to the authority of human laws.
If the pulpit be silent
whenever or wherever there may be a sinner bloody with this guilt within the hearing of its voice,
the pulpit is false to its trust
The Original 13-A Documentary History of Religion in America's First Thirteen States
"Whoever shall hereafter write this part of our history ... will be able to record no ... lawless and despotic acts, or any successful usurpation.
His page will contain no exhibition of ... civil authority habitually trampled down by military power, or of a community crushed by the burden of taxation ...
He will speak ... of that happy condition, in which the restraint and coercion of government are almost invisible and imperceptible ..."
"Finally, let us not forget the religious character of our origin.
Our fathers were brought hither by their high veneration for
the Christian religion
. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope.
They sought to incorporate its principles
with the elements of their society, and to diffuse its influence
through all their institutions, civil, political, or literary.
Let us cherish these sentiments, and extend this influence still more widely; in the full conviction, that
that is the happiest society which partakes in the highest degree of the mild and peaceful spirit of Christianity
The Plymouth Rock Foundation
was founded in 1970 with the mission:
"To make more widely known and understood the Pilgrim principles and characteristics - their devotion to God and the Bible, to freedom and to tolerance, and their embodiment of courage, brotherhood, and individual moral character."
Dr. Paul Jehle, Executive Director of the Plymouth Rock Foundation
, whose ancestors were on the
, wrote "Mayflower Compact Day" (Plymouth Rock Foundation's E-News, November, 2011):
"We remember when the
was signed on board the Mayflower, while it lay anchored in what is now Provincetown Harbor, November 11, 1620 ...
A compact is a covenant ... Since the Pilgrims were children of the Reformation, their view of covenant came from the Bible.
It was God that initiated the concept of covenant, first with Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:15-17 and 2:24).
God also made a covenant with Noah in Genesis 9 and of course the process of 'cutting' covenant was depicted in visual form for Abraham in Genesis 15.
Throughout the Bible covenants were used both vertically (with God directly) and horizontally (with humans) to depict God's process of bringing people into unity with Him and one another.
Unity of purpose and harmony with God set the highest ideals for good behavior ..."
"No wonder when
Pastor John Robinson sent his farewell letter to the Pilgrims
upon their departure in 1620, knowing that they would need to form their own civil government, he gave this sound advice:
'Whereas you are become a body politic, using amongst yourselves civil government, and are not furnished with any persons of special eminency above the rest, to be chosen by you into office of government;
let your wisdom and godliness appear, not only in choosing such persons as do entirely love and will promote the common good ...
not being like the foolish multitude who more honor the gay coat than either the virtuous mind of the man, or glorious ordinance of the Lord.'"
The question the founders wrestled with was:
does POWER flow
> from the Creator
> to the King
> to the People;
does POWER flow
> from the Creator
> to the People
> to the Political Leaders?
At the time of America's founding, nearly the entire world was ruled by kings who claimed to have a "divine right" to rule over people.
King James I
"Kings are ... God's lieutenants upon earth ... sit upon God's throne ... The king is overlord of the whole land ... master over every person ... having power over the life & death of every one."
"I am the State"; and "It is legal because I wish it."
Dr. Marshall Foster
of the Mayflower Institute (now World History Institute), co-producer of
Kirk Cameron's 2012 film Monumental: In Search of America's National Treasure
, wrote in "A Shining City on a Hill" (February 27, 2013):
"Four hundred years ago the conflict between tyranny and liberty was red hot ...
When King James died in 1625, his son Charles I ascended to the throne with the arrogance of a Roman emperor.
He was the quintessential 'divine right' monarch. He declared martial law and suspended the rights of the individual ...
The king's inquisitors at his 'Star Chamber' in the tower of London used torture techniques to 'discover the taxpayer's assets' ...
A turning point in public opinion took place on January 30, 1637. Three prisoners were locked down in the pillory in London before a huge crowd ...
... These men included a Puritan minister, a Christian writer and Dr. John Bastwick, a physician.
What was their crime?
They had written pamphlets disagreeing with the king's religious views. The sheriff began by branding the men with red hot irons on the forehead with an SL for seditious libel ..."
Dr. Foster continued:
"The tyranny of the king ... finally aroused the Christian sensibilities of the people. They would no longer tolerate burnings or mutilations for matters of conscience on religious views ...
The persecutions drove tens of thousands of liberty loving believers to follow the Pilgrims to New England where they laid the foundation for the world's most biblically based nation."
An experiment was attempted in New England
churches founded settlements
Rev. John Robinson & Elder William Brewster
-Providence, Rhode Island-
Rev. Roger Williams
Rev. John Lothropp
-Exeter, New Hampshire-
Rev. John Wheelwright
Rev. John Cotton
Rev. Thomas Hooker
For God and Country
Due to a conflict with Puritan Rev. John Cotton,
Rev. Thomas Hooker
led his church members in 1636 from Massachusetts, through the wilderness,
to found the city of Hartford, Connecticut
Settlers inquired of
how they should set up their government.
Nearly a century before Europe's "Age of Enlightenment,"
Rev. Thomas Hooker
preached a sermon, May 31, 1638, explaining:
"Deuteronomy 1:13 '
Choose you wise men and understanding and known among your tribes
and I will make them heads over you captains over thousands, captains over hundreds, fifties, tens' ...
The choice of public magistrates belongs unto
by Gods own allowance ...
The privilege of election ... belongs to the people
... according to the blessed will and law of God ...
They who have power to appoint officers and magistrates
it is in their power also to set the bounds and limits of the power
and places unto which they call them ...
foundation of authority
is laid firstly in the
free consent of the people
The ideas proposed in
Hooker's sermon were revolutionary
as for most of the world, the foundation of authority was the will of a divinely-appointed king, emperor, czar, sultan, maharaja, or chieftain.
Rev. Hooker's sermon
became the basis for
The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, 1639.
The Fundamental Orders
is acknowledgement made to the King
as in other charters, ie.: "our dread Sovereign"; "our gracious Lord the King."
Instead of the
government of a "divinely-appointed" king, government was instead to be
, like the roots of a tree drawing nourishment from every citizen's involvement.
The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut
, 1639, stated:
a people are gathered together
the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union ... there should be an
orderly and decent Government established according to God
The people ... conjoin ourselves to be as one Public State or Commonwealth
... to maintain and
preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus
which we now profess ...
According to the truth of the said Gospel ... our civil affairs to be guided and governed according to such Laws, Rules, Orders and Decrees as shall be made ...
The Governor ... shall have the power to administer justice according to the Laws here established, and for want thereof,
according to the Rule of the Word of God
The Fundamental Orders
were used in Connecticut till 1818, serving as a blueprint for other New England colonies and eventually the United States Constitution.
George Washington, who presided over the Constitutional Convention, later dictated a "talk" August 29, 1796:
The wise men of the United States meet together once a year
, to consider what will be for the good of all their people ... I have thought that
a meeting of your wise men
once or twice a year would be alike useful to you."
The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut
were described by Historian John Fiske (
Beginnings of New England
, Cambridge, 1889) as:
"The first written constitution known to history that created a government.
It marked the beginnings of American democracy, of which
deserves more than any other man to be called the father.
The government of the United States today is in lineal descent more nearly related to that of Connecticut than to that of any of the other thirteen colonies."
Connecticut was designated "
The Constitution State
" in 1959.
A statue of
Rev. Thomas Hooker
holding a Bible stands prominently at the Connecticut State Capitol, with the inscription on the base:
"Leading his people through the wilderness, he founded Hartford in June of 1636. On this site
he preached the sermon which inspired The Fundamental Orders
. It was the first written Constitution that created a government."
A plaque erected in Hartford by the Daughters of the American Revolution reads:
"In 1636, The Church in Newtown, Massachusetts,
Thomas Hooker, Minister
, was transplanted to this locality, called Meeting House Yard, Old State House Square, City Hall Square.
Near this site on May 31, 1638,
Thomas Hooker preached his Famous Sermon: 'The Foundation of Authority is Laid In the Free Consent of the People.'
Near this site on January 14, 1639, representatives of the three river towns adopted
The Fundamental Orders Of Connecticut, 'The first written constitution known to history that created a government
A historical marker in England reads:
1586-1647, Curate of St. Mary's Church, Chelmsford and Town Lecturer 1626-1629,
Founder of the State of Connecticut 1636, 'Father of American Democracy.'"
Another marker reads:
"Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council,
, (1586-1647), Puritan Clergyman, Pupil of this School, Reputed
Father of 'American Democracy
A plaque in Cambridge, Massachusetts, reads:
"Here Stood The Original Meeting House of the First Church in Cambridge. Built in 1632 and
the center of the Civic and Religious Life of the Town
. Here Ministered 1633-1636
Thomas Hooker-A Peerless Leader of Thought and Life in both Church and State
The Plymouth Rock Foundation's first Executive Director was
Dr. Charles Hull Wolfe,
a dedicated Marxist who changed his views after conducting an independent study of American economics.
Dr. D. James Kennedy
, wrote "Restoring the Real Meaning of Thanksgiving" (1989):
"When the brilliant
Rev. Thomas Hooker
left Boston and settled in Hartford, he promptly called for three Connecticut towns to join together in forming a colony.
followed the Pilgrim pattern and led the people of Connecticut in framing a written compact for
civil self-government rooted in Mosaic tradition.
He used as his text, 'Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.' (Deuteronomy 1:13).
preached a scholarly sermon that guided the men of Connecticut in framing
the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut
in 1639, commonly called 'the world's first complete written constitution,' though, in fact, Plymouth had framed a complete constitutional charter, the Pilgrim Code of Law, three years before."
In New England, instead of
separation of church and state
, it was the
pastors and churches that created the state
President Calvin Coolidge
stated at the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia, July 5, 1926:
"The principles ... which went into the Declaration of Independence ... are found in ...
the sermons ... of the early colonial clergy
who were earnestly undertaking to instruct their congregations in the great mystery of how to live.
They preached equality because they believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.
They justified freedom by the text that we are all created in the divine image ...
Placing every man on a plane where
he acknowledged no superiors, where no one possessed any right to rule over him, he must inevitably choose his own rulers through a system of self-government
In order that they might have freedom to express these thoughts and opportunity to put them into action, WHOLE CONGREGATIONS WITH THEIR PASTORS MIGRATED TO THE COLONIES."
Where European kings were burning people at the stake for not believing the way they did,
New England pastors
since Jesus never forced anyone to follow him, they could not either
They determined that since the KINGDOM OF GOD can NEVER BE FORCED from the
the only way for it to happen was if the majority of PEOPLE held godly values and voted for REPRESENTATIVES holding their values, then LAWS would be passed reflecting those values, and the values of the KINGDOM OF GOD could come voluntarily from the
A "KING," as defined in Webster's 1828 Dictionary, is: "The chief or SOVEREIGN of a nation; a man invested with supreme AUTHORITY over a nation, tribe or country; a monarch. Kings are absolute."
Romans 13:1 "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is NO AUTHORITY EXCEPT that which GOD HAS ESTABLISHED."
God allowed for America's founders to establish a government where, instead of a single man being the supreme authority, THE PEOPLE are the SUPREME AUTHORITY.
Signer of the Constitution
"This magistrate is not the king. THE PEOPLE are THE KING."
, the First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, wrote in
Chisholm v. Georgia,
"THE PEOPLE are the SOVEREIGN of this country."
Signer of Constitution
stated at the Pennsylvania Convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution:
"SOVEREIGNTY resides in THE PEOPLE; they have not parted with it."
wrote to William Johnson, 1823:
"But the Chief Justice says, 'There must be an ULTIMATE ARBITER somewhere.' True, there must ... The ULTIMATE ARBITER is THE PEOPLE."
wrote in Federalist No. 46, 1788:
"The ULTIMATE AUTHORITY ... resides in THE PEOPLE ALONE."
"The strength of the Constitution lies entirely in the determination of
each citizen to defend it. Only if
every single citizen feels duty bound to do his share in this defense are constitutional rights secure."
"I have had a longing desire, to see with my own eyes, something of
the most ancient language, and holy tongue, in which the Law, and oracles of God were writ; and in which God, and angels, spoke to the holy patriarchs, of old time; and what names were given to things, from the creation.
And though I cannot attaine to much herein, yet I am refreshed, to have seen some glimpse hereof; (as Moses say the Land of Canaan afarr off) my aime and desire is, to see how
the words, and phrases lye in the holy texte; and to dicerne somewhat of the same for my owne contente."