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Just received this note from a well-read and perceptive friend:
Don’t want to let the day slip away without noting that today marks the 400th anniversary of the signing of the Mayflower Compact.
Yes, the Virginians got here first, and were allowed to establish a representative assembly 401 years ago. But from the start, the Virginia colony existed under the authority and “laws” of the Virginia Company in London. The Pilgrims, by accident of navigation, landed outside the territorial limits of any existing, active legal or corporate authority. So they simply sat down as a citizenry and, instead of fighting over who should be the boss or bosses, established their own proto-democracy from scratch. And they did this coming from a pre-Enlightenment environment in which the “commons” in the British parliament were just (barely) beginning to assert their own rights and authority, in which concepts such as “equality” and “democracy” were virtually unknown, and in which monarchical and aristocratic rule had been the universal model for centuries. In the context of their times, it was rather remarkable.
So despite all their faults, hats off to the Pilgrim Fathers for planting a seed which has proved remarkably resilient over four centuries….