On the fourth Thursday of November, our attention naturally turns to food and football the Pilgrims who celebrated America’s first Thanksgiving. After great privation, a bountiful harvest inspired the Plymouth colony to lay a great feast.
That they survived is remarkable. After all, there was no Environmental Protection Agency to restrict the greenhouse gases escaping from all that burning wood. No Department of Labor to inspect the whipsaws, augers, and chisels employed in home construction. Nor was the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the ready to dole out subsidies and manage crop production.
But lo, anarchy there was not. The intrepid Pilgrims organized themselves (themselves!) to protect kin and hearth through the Mayflower Compact. Signed on November 11, 1620, the compact obligated its signatories to “solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; 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.”