The Plymouth colony is significant for a number of reasons. For one thing, it provided America with its first ever example of self-government in the form of the Mayflower Compact. This was a declaration of principles that established what kind of government the Pilgrim settlers would operate upon once they stepped ashore. Although the Pilgrims stated clearly that they would remain loyal to King James I of England, they also stated that they would enact their own laws, ordinances, and acts for the good of the colony as a whole. Initially drawn up to stave off dissension in the Pilgrim ranks, the Mayflower Compact was used to form the basis of civic life in the Plymouth Colony.
The long-term significance of the Compact was even greater in that it provided inspiration to future generations of Americans seeking independence from the British. The principles of self-government enunciated by American colonialists were strikingly similar to those of the Pilgrim settlers with the notable exception that they most certainly did not pledge allegiance to the King of England.