Book Review: The Mayflower Compact

Reading Level

Ages 9-12

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This is the final title in the fine National Geographic American Documents series. The focus here is the famous Mayflower Compact, which is commonly thought of as the first form of representative government in America.

Other than that, the story of the Mayflower Compact doesn't have a whole lot to it. We know who the signers were, and we know who the leaders of the colony were. You certainly can't make a whole book out of it, and Judith Lloyd Yero certainly doesn't stop there.

The book focuses more on the Pilgrims than anything else. We follow them from their early days of struggling to worship in their way, through their trip to Holland, and then to their historic voyage to what they hoped was Virginia. The author makes the argument that the Compact was borne of necessity, and that is certainly so.

What we also have in this book is a thorough examination of the Pilgrims themselves. They weren't all striving for religious freedom. A good number were called Strangers and were people who were looking for new homes and new opportunities, not necessarily new places to worship. Nonetheless, they were all on the Mayflower together, and a certain number of Strangers signed the Mayflower Compact along with the more well-known Separatists.

The book does an excellent job of correcting historical inaccuracies associated with the first Thanksgiving. That is a welcome addition indeed.

Finally, the book includes the entire text of the Mayflower Compact and a few more primary source documents besides. The result is an excellent examination of the document, its context, and its signers.

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