Mayflower Compact Timeline
Timeline Description: The Mayflower Compact is the agreement signed by the passengers of the Mayflower when it arrived in North America in 1620. It is considered the first government document in American history.

Date Event
1603 King James I takes over as ruler of the British Empire.

King James I becomes the King of England. He declares that there will be no tolerance for criticism of the Church of England.
1617 British Separatists decide to leave The Netherlands.

British Separatists who had been living in the Netherlands because of their disagreement with the Church of England begin to consider other options. While they do have the right to practice their religion freely, they are concerned about their children losing touch with their British heritage.
July 1620 The Virginia Company reaches an agreement with the Separatists to form a new colony in America.

Faced with financial difficulties, the Virginia Company comes to an agreement with a group of Separatists. The Virginia Company paid for the Separatists to establish a new British colony in Virginia and would share profits with the colonists.
September 6, 1620 The Mayflower leaves England.

The Mayflower, carrying 102 passengers, leaves England and heads for America. The passengers include a mix of Separatists, indentured servants, and orphans.
November 1620 The Mayflower arrives in Cape Cod.

After stormy weather blew the Mayflower north of Virginia, the Mayflower arrives in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Some passengers say that since they are not in Virginia, they are not ruled by Great Britain and threaten to form their own colony.
November 21, 1620 The Mayflower Compact is written.

With William Bradford as a primary author, several men on the ship write a covenant that states that all of the Mayflower passengers will stay together and obey the laws of the colony. Only male passengers to sign the Mayflower Compact, which was required before they were allowed off the ship.
November 1620 Edward Winslow and William Bradford begin work on "Mourt's Relation," which includes a copy of the Mayflower Compact.

A book detailing the experiences of the passengers on the Mayflower is begun by Edward Winslow and William Bradford. A version of the Mayflower Compact appears in the book, which is intended to present Plymouth Colony in a positive light.
December 26, 1620 The Mayflower drops anchor in Plymouth Harbor.

After exploration parties had determined that Plymouth Harbor was the best location for settlement, the Mayflower drops anchor. Many of the passengers are sick and over half will die within weeks of arrival.
April 2, 1621 John Carver is named the governor of Plymouth Colony.

John Carver, a Separatist from Leiden, is named the first governor of Plymouth Colony. He was the first signer of the Mayflower Compact.
1624 The population of Plymouth is 124.

Plymouth grows at a very slow pace and its population stands at 124 by 1624. Its population peaks at about 7,000 and the colony never does receive a royal charter.
1638 The government of Plymouth shifts to a General Court.

Although the Mayflower Compact calls for meetings of all freemen in the colony to elect officials, the system had become impractical. Too many colonists had spread out across the region to form new towns, so the government shifted to a General Court, permitting towns to elect deputies to serve on the Court.
1646 Bradford writes his journal, "Of Plimouth Plantation."

Bradford writes about the growth of the Plymouth Colony in "Of Plimouth Plantation" and includes the text of the Mayflower Compact. Today, the handwritten journal is stored in a vault at the State Library of Massachusetts.
1686 Plymouth becomes part of the Dominion of New England.

The Mayflower Compact becomes moot when Plymouth is made part of the Dominion of New England. In 1689, with colonists unhappy about losing their right to independence governance, the union is dissolved.
1691 Plymouth is absorbed into Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Unable to get its own royal charter, Plymouth officially ends its run as an independent colony. It is absorbed into the larger and more powerful Massachusetts Bay Colony.
1907 Construction of the Pilgrim Monument begins in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

In commemoration of the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620, construction begins on the granite Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown, Massachusetts. The monument is completed in 1910 and features a plaque depicting the signing of the Mayflower Compact.






Educational Videos