High winds and treacherous tides along North America's coast blew the Pilgrims 500 miles off course, preventing them from joining Virginia's settlement at Jamestown, founded 14 years earlier.
Having to disembark in Massachusetts, there was no government to submit to, so the Pilgrims created their own - the Mayflower Compact.
It was the first "constitution" written in America.
The Mayflower Compact began:
"In ye name of God, Amen.
We whose names are underwritten, the loyall subjects of our dread soveraigne Lord, King James ...
having undertaken, for ye glorie of God, and advancemente of ye Christian faith, and honour of our king & countrie, a voyage to plant ye first colonie in ye Northerne parts of Virginia ...
in ye presence of God, and one of another, covenant & combine our selves togeather into a civill body politick ...
to enacte ... just & equall lawes ... as shall be thought most meete & convenient for ye generall good of ye Colonie,
unto which we promise all due submission and obedience ..."
The Mayflower Compact ended:
"In witnes wherof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cap-Codd ye 11 of NOVEMBER, Ano:Dom. 1620."
There were three types of colonies:
- Company Charter Colonies;
- Royal Crown Colonies;
- Proprietary Colonies.
1) A Company Charter Colony - where the king gave monopoly permission to investors who risked their own capital in attempting to found a colony.
It did not "cost" the king anything and he got a percentage of what came in, according to king-approved by laws.
The background of "joint-stock companies" is interesting.
Medieval Europe had a sin called usury - the paying or receiving of interest.
This prevented the formation of for-profit companies.
Though there existed merchant guilds, craft guilds, and religious guilds, these did not have large supplies of capital required for major undertakings.
Any significant endeavors, such as fitting out ships to sail the world, had to be financed by a king or wealthy noblemen.
After the Reformation, what is considered the first modern joint-stock company was England's Company of Merchant Adventurers to New Lands, chartered in 1553.
Outfitted with investments from 250 shareholders, they sent three ships to find a way to China.
Unfortunately, they attempted to sail north of Russia where most of the crew froze to death.
The company was rechartered in 1555 as the Muscovy Company to trade with Moscow's Ivan the Terrible.
The most financially successful joint-stock company was the Dutch East India Company, founded in 1602.
Anyone, be it a baker, blacksmith, farmer, etc., could invest in a ship going to Indonesia, and they would get paid a profit when the ship returned filled with valuable spices, such as nutmeg, cloves, and mace, together with tea, coffee, silk, sugarcane, grain, rice, soybean, porcelain, silk, and textiles.
The Dutch added the feature that allowed individuals to trade their shares of stock.
It was the Amsterdam Stock Exchange - the first of its kind in the world.
Shareholders had limited-liability, meaning that if the ship sank or was captured by pirates, investors only lost the amount they invested, and were not responsible for any additional liability or damages.
Losses were covered by the Dutch creating the first modern insurance companies.
By 1612, the Dutch East India Company had become the first intercontinental trade corporation with limited liability.
In the next two centuries, its profits grew to eclipse all other companies combined, being considered the most valuable company ever in world history.
The British East India Company was charted by Queen Elizabeth I on December 31, 1600.
It transported tea, spices, salt, cotton, saltpetre, indigo blue dye, and opium, and grew to eventually account for half of the world's trade.
The Virginia Company of London was chartered in 1606.
The Virginia Colony suffered tremendous financial loss due to diseases, famine and Indian massacres. The colony was surrendered to the King who made it a Royal Crown Colony in 1624.
2) A Royal Crown Colony was ruled directly by the King through his appointed governor.
In Virginia's case, the King appointed a governor but did not provide financial support.
The Governor demanded landowners provide his funding, but left it up to them to determine how, leading to a degree of autonomy in the Virginia House of Burgesses - the first legislative assembly in the New World.
3) A Proprietary Colony was land given by the king to a private individual, notably:
- Maryland was originally given by King Charles I as private property to Lord Baltimore in 1632;
- The Carolinas were originally given by King Charles II as private property to seven lord proprietors in 1663;
- New York was originally given by King Charles II as private property to his younger brother, the Duke of York, in 1664;
- Pennsylvania was given by King Charles II as private property to William Penn in 1681.
The Pilgrims' "Plymouth Plantation" was originally a "company" colony, having obtained a land patent from the Virginia Company of London.
Company bylaws were drawn up by the investors, called "adventurers"- who loaned the money for the Pilgrims' trip. They expected to be paid back with a profit.
The bylaws set up a communal system for the first seven years, in which all capital and profits remained "in ye common stock":
"The adventurers & planters do agree that every person that goeth being aged 16 years & upward ... be accounted a single share ...
The persons transported & ye adventurers shall continue their joint stock & partnership together, ye space of 7 years ...
during which time, all profits & benefits that are got by trade, traffic, trucking, working, fishing, or any other means of any person or persons, remain still in ye common stock ...
... That all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provision out of ye common stock & goods ...
That at ye end of ye 7 years, ye capital & profits, viz. the houses, lands, goods and chattels, be equally divided betwixt ye adventurers, and planters."
Pilgrim Governor William Bradford described in Of Plymouth Plantation that the sharing of "all profits & benefits ... in ye common stock," regardless of how hard each individual worked, was a failure:
"The failure of that experiment of communal service, which was tried for several years, and by good and honest men,
proves the emptiness of the theory of Plato and other ancients, applauded by some of later times, -- that the taking away of private property, and the possession of it in community, by a commonwealth, would make a state happy and flourishing; as it they were wiser than God ...
... For in this instance, community of property was found to breed much confusion and discontent;
and retard much employment which would have been to the general benefit ...
For the young men who were most able and fit for service objected to being forced to spend their time and strength in working for other men's wives and children, without any recompense ..."
William Bradford continued:
"The strong man or the resourceful man had no more share of food, clothes, etc., than the weak man who was not able to do a quarter the other could. This was thought injustice.
The aged and graver men, who were ranked and equalized in labor, food, clothes, etc., with the humbler and younger ones, thought it some indignity and disrespect to them.
As for men's wives who were obliged to do service for other men, such as cooking, washing their clothes, etc., they considered it a kind of slavery, and many husbands would not brook it ..."
Bradford explained that the "communistic plan" of redistributing wealth failed:
"it did ... abolish those very relations which God himself has set among men ... (and) greatly diminish the mutual respect that is so important should be preserved amongst them.
Let none argue that this is due to human failing, rather than to this communistic plan of life in itself."
Bradford described how the Pilgrims switched to allow individuals to have their own property, after which they could be charitable to each other:
"I answer, seeing that all men have this failing in them, that God in His wisdom saw that another plan of life was fitter for them ...
So they began to consider how to raise more corn, and obtain a better crop than they had done, so that they might not continue to endure the misery of want ...
At length after much debate, the Governor, with the advice of the chief among them, allowed each man to plant corn for his own household ...
So every family was assigned a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number ...
... This was very successful.
It made all hands very industrious, so that much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could devise, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better satisfaction.
... The women now went willing into the field, and took their little ones with them to plant corn, while before they would allege weakness and inability, and to have compelled them would have been thought great tyranny and oppression."
The Pilgrims tried the "communistic plan of life" and almost starved to death.
They switched to everyone owning their own land, producing their own food, after which they could be charitable with each other.
People may say, wasn't the early church communistic?
No -- the early church was the early church!
Socialism and communism are counterfeit early church. And the difference is between the words voluntary and involuntary.
Early believers voluntarily sold their property and laid the money at the feet of the Apostles for the church to distribute.
They did not have their land taken away from them and then be forced to involuntarily lay the money at the feet of Pilate for the Roman Government to redistribute.
In Bible, each family was given PROPERTY in Promised "Land."
If you own property, you can accumulate possessions. The Bible calls this being BLESSED.
You can then be moved in your heart to voluntarily give away some of your possessions. The Bible calls this CHARITY.
If you do not own property and possessions, how can you be charitable?
You cannot give away what you do not have.
Are you going to steal from others to give it away?
Now you have sinned by breaking the Law and are a thief??? This is not what the Bible teaches.
Instead, God blesses you with possessions and then gives you the opportunity to express in this material world the love for others that exists in your heart by voluntarily giving some of your possessions away in charity.
Pilgrim Pastor John Robinson wrote December 15, 1617, that the Pilgrims were:
“Knit together as a body in most strict and sacred bond and covenant of the Lord, of the violation whereof we make great conscience,
and by virtue whereof we so hold ourselves straitly tied to all care of each other's good, and of the whole by everyone and so mutually."
Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop wrote similarly in A Model of Christian Charity, June 11, 1630:
“We are a company, professing ourselves fellow members of Christ … knit together by this bond of love ...
It is by a mutual consent through a special overruling Providence ... between God and us: we are entered into covenant with Him for this work.
We must be knit together ... make one another’s condition our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together … as members of the same body.
So shall we keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace ...
We shall find that the God of Israel is among us ... We shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us."
Read as PDF ... Pilgrims tried Communism -- and rejected it! -- replacing it with everyone owning their own property and being charitable!