Many Protestants, unhappy under English Anglican religious restrictions, decided to cross the Atlantic in search of the opportunity to put into practice their religious faith as they understood that it should be lived out. From Plymouth, England, the Mayflower took about 100 passengers on a voyage to land owned by the Virginia Company, where the pilgrims had permission to settle. However, they landed instead in Plymouth in New England on a bleak December day in 1620. Since the new colony was outside the Virginia Company's possessions, its legal status was dubious from the start. Thus, before leaving the ship, 41 of the first arrivals signed the Mayflower Compact. This compact provided for their government during the first years of the Plymouth Colony.
In ye name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwriten, the loyall subjects of our dread soveraigne Lord King James by ye grace of God, of Great Britaine, Franc, & Ireland king, defender of ye faith, &c
Haveing undertaken, for ye glorie of God, and advancemente of ye Christian faith and honour of our king & countrie, a voyage to plant ye first colonie in ye Northerne parts of Virginia, doe by these presents solemnly & mutualy in ye presence of God, and one of another, covenant & combine our selves togeather into a civill body politick, for our better ordering & preservation & furtherance of ye ends aforesaid; and by vertue hearof to enacte, constitute, and frame such just & equall lawes, ordinances, Acts, constitutions, & offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meete & convenient for ye generall good of ye Colonie, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witnes wherof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cap-Codd ye .11. of November, in ye year of ye raigne of our soveraigne Lord King James, of England, France, & Ireland ye eighteenth, and of Scotland ye fiftie fourth. Ano: Dom. 1620.
The Actual Bradford Page (with relevant part highlighted)
Signers of the Compact
Signing of the Mayflower Compact
House wing of the U.S. Capitol - Architect of the Capitol