Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Mayflower Compact Started It (The)
Lesson 2
From Unit: How Did We Help?
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


This lesson will introduce the "Mayflower Compact." How it started the concept of designing documents to aid the common good is discussed along with the plight of the Pilgrims when they came to the new land.


One Forty-Five to Fifty Minute Class Period


The learner will:

  • define compact.
  • hypothesize about the importance of the Mayflower Compact on the welfare of the colony.
  • describe how the Mayflower Compact contributed to the common good.


Copy of the Mayflower Compact (Attachment One)

Handout 1
The Mayflower Compact

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:

Tell the students they are explorers in a foreign land. Ask what they will need in this unexplored wilderness. How will they get it? Who will get it? Who is going to decide what needs to be done? All of these questions and more were on the minds of the Pilgrims as they landed at their new home. The "Mayflower Compact" was a document created to help solve some of these problems.

  • Give background information on the Pilgrims and their voyage leading up to the creation of the Compact. (See Bibliographical References.)

  • Define "compact" (a solemn binding agreement). Read the Mayflower Compact aloud, paragraph by paragraph, making sure students understand the language and discussing the importance of what is being said. The following questions may be used to stress significant issues:

    • What reasons were given for the creation of the document?

    • What did they agree to do?

    • What words in the document show the seriousness of the persons who signed it?

    • What was so important about the Mayflower Compact that it is still studied as part of our history? (first agreement to create self-government in America)

  • Ask students to think about the impact of the document on the new society.

    • Did it help or hurt them?

    • Would the new colony have survived just as well without it?

    • Could the signing of the Mayflower Compact be considered an act that contributed to the "common good?" How?

    • What was the benefit in this historical situation of group cooperation?

  • Have the students write a three-paragraph summary of their thoughts from the discussion or draw a picture demonstrating one concept found in the Mayflower Compact.


The students will write a three-paragraph summary explaining how they interpreted the document. It may contain some connections to present day society while associating with the impact on the Pilgrims. Content is the only concern for this lesson. A further assessment may be made using the writing style. A picture that would demonstrate one concept found in the Mayflower Compact may be used as an alternate assessment.

Bibliographical References:

Web site for the Mayflower Compact document:


Lesson Developed By:

Pamela McIntosh
Detroit Public Schools
Woodward Elementary School
Detroit, MI 48208


Handout 1Print Handout 1

The Mayflower Compact

In the name of God, Amen:

We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord, King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc.

Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern Parts of Virginia:

Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and of one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the aforesaid Ends;

And by Virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience.

In Witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the 11th of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, King James of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini, 1620.

Philanthropy Framework:


Sandra, Teacher New Boston, MI10/24/2007 8:11:48 AM

(The positive aspect of using this lesson was) the good connection to government and common good.

Jeff, Teacher Ann Arbor, MI10/24/2007 8:12:44 AM

(The positive aspect of using this lesson was) the good writing assignment. We had to really examine the Mayflower Compact.

Alison, Teacher Sherwood, MI10/24/2007 8:14:32 AM

(The positive aspect of using this lesson was) the use of primary source instead of "watered down" material.

Shannon, Teacher Los Angeles, CA10/1/2008 5:26:31 PM

The technique used here helped me so much!

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Unit Contents:

Overview:How Did We Help? Summary


Native Americans and Giving
Mayflower Compact Started It (The)
"Society of Friends" and Society (The )
Benjamin Franklin and Life

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