The Mayflower Compact was the first agreement developed by settlers of the New World when they recognized the need for some sort of governmental organization. It is unique because it represents the first written example of a group of individuals choosing to set up a government over themselves and all agreeing to abide by the rules established therein.
Having undertaken...a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, (we) do Covenant and Combine ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation...and...enact, constitute and frame...Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices...as shall be...general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
The Compact was signed by forty-one of the 102 passengers who had arrived aboard the Mayflower to establish Plymouth Colony. Included among the signers were William Bradford (governor of Plymouth Colony), Miles Standish (militia leader and treasurer for Plymouth Colony), and others.