The Mayflower Compact, 389 Years Later

In addition to being the day on which World War I ended and Veterans’ Day is celebrated, November 11 also is the anniversary of the “Mayflower Compact” signed by the handful of settlers at the New Plymouth Colony.  The Compact was signed on November 11, 1620.

According to the text available on the Yale Law Library website, the Compact was written like a legal document — a kind of combination of an affidavit and a contract.  It states, in pertinent part, that the signers “[d]o by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, 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.”

Why should we care (other than to note that legalese was as prevalent in those long-ago days as it is now)?  We should care because the underlying concept of the Compact was so striking and different for that day and age.  Government was to be established not by the fiat of some faraway, hereditary King, but by the consent and agreement of the governed, who signed their mutual contract in their individual capacities.  The signers, in  turn, recognized that by banding together they could create a society that would be better “ordered and preserved” than if they struck out on their own in the wilderness.  Moreover, they reserved for themselves the ability to decide which laws, Constitutions, and Officers should be deemed “most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony.”

The Mayflower Compact is one of those early American documents that we all learn about in fifth grade American History classes, but then fades into obscurity, overshadowed by the titanic significance of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  Yet it is one of the precursor documents which helped to create the spirit and mindset that made the Declaration and the Constitution possible.  In short, American colonists were governed because they consented and agreed to be governed.  We should all celebrate, and remember, one of the days on which that concept was realized and put into effect.

Extra Credit

The Goldsboro Middle School in Wayne County, North Carolina came up with a straightforward way to raise money — in exchange for a $20 donations, students would be given 20 “points” they could distribute among two tests and increase their grades.  Apparently the fundraising concept was the brainchild of a parents’ advisory council and was approved by the school’s principal.  After the idea was the subject of a report by a local newspaper, however, district officials stepped in and quashed the fundraising effort.

It’s pretty sad that American public schools have reached the point where, to raise revenue, they are seriously considering selling “points” on tests and, in effect, peddling better grades to those parents willing to shell out a few extra bucks.  It is even sadder that the principal of a middle school would not see the obvious ethical and moral problems with that kind of fundraising approach and nix it immediately.

Stimu-Less

It seems like every day there is another news story on the utter phoniness of the federal government’s shameless reporting of jobs “saved or created” by the $787 billion “stimulus” bill passed by Congress earlier this year.  The latest article exposing the bogus jobs claims comes from the Boston Globe, which reports that the claims that 12,374 jobs were “saved or created” in Massachusetts were “wildly exaggerated.”  Through interviews of stimulus fund recipients, the Globe determined that people miscounted jobs, submitted flatly erroneous figures, and claimed jobs were created by projects that have not even begun.  The article states:  “The federal stimulus report for Massachusetts has so many errors, missing data, or estimates instead of actual job counts that it may be impossible to accurately tally how many people have been employed by the massive infusion of federal money.”

Does anyone really believe that we will ever get an accurate report on the actual, honest-to-God results produced by the $787 billion “stimulus” bill?  And, if the federal government told us that some future, revised set of statistics on jobs “created or saved” were final and fully audited, would anyone truly believe the numbers?

This kind of painfully obvious confusion, ineptitude, and falsification is, I think, one reason why people are so concerned about the massive health care reforms being considered by Congress.  We have seen that our government cannot even accurately count jobs attributable to federal expenditures; why in the world would anyone believe the federal government can capably  reshape and manage  our nation’s sprawling health care system, which employs millions of Americans and treats tens of millions of Americans every year?

 

Veterans’ Day

November 11 is known as Veterans’ Day in America, Armistice Day in England, and Remembrance Day in Australia. All three holidays commemorate the end of World War I — the Great War — on November 11, 1918 and the sacrifices of soldiers in the later wars that have occurred since the War to End All Wars.

A cemetery at Gallipoli

This BBC story reports on observations of the holiday across the globe and notes that there remains one surviving British veteran of World War I, who lives in a nursing home in Australia. He did not participate in any celebration of the holiday because, his family says, he opposes the glorification of war. His reaction is not surprising. Fighting in any war must be a wrenching, awful experience, but World War I, like the Civil War before it, was almost unimaginably bloody and horrible. Entire generations of British, French, German, and Russian men were mowed down by machine guns, blown apart by artillery, and impaled on barbed wire as they tried to attack fortified trench positions of the enemy over the desolate waste of No Man’s Land. Revisiting those painful scenes, even after the passage of 90 years, must be unbearable.

Today we remember those veterans who served, and fought, and sacrificed, and we thank those soldiers who currently serve and protect our nation.