The Farm Chronicles: A call from the grave

Imagine two men talking over a cup of coffee about their future families, and three hundred years later their granddaughter and grandson were married. Think about all the things that had to fall into place for that to happen. All the trials and tribulations, joys and tragedies in between. My 11th great grandfather on my mother’s side of the family was Richard Warren. My 13th great grandfather on my father’s side of the family was William Bradford. Both signed the Mayflower Compact that Bradford co-wrote. And here is why on this 402nd anniversary of the signing of the Mayflower Compact, a call from the grave centuries ago is so important to my family, and to yours as well.

Grandpas Warren and Bradford were two of 41 who signed the Mayflower Compact. Bradford became governor of the Massachusetts colony, and is credited with inventing the free market system. Through the Mayflower Compact along with the faith and toil of the brave men and women who endured such great hardship, the foundations of a new nation were established—a beacon of religious and economic freedom in covenant to one another toward the glory of God. And unto Bradford’s death his gravestone calls out to all of us, “What our forefathers with so much difficulty secured, do not basely relinquish.”

The Mayflower Compact declares, “Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honor of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do 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.”

With these words, 41 men agreed to govern in submission and obedience to God. And it wasn’t easy. Bradford wrote in “of Plymouth Plantation”, “In two or three month’s time half of their company died…scarcely 50 remained, and sometimes two or three persons died in a day… that while they had health or strength, they forsook none that had need of them.” Their Virginia Company Charter, however, called for common ownership of land, property, food, drink, clothing, and provisions. Bradford saw that this socialist concept was detrimental to the colony because it inspired laziness and a lack of productivity. He drew from the Mayflower Compact to make a change for the general good of the colony. He abolished the socialist structure, giving ownership of land to each person and two days a week for “their own private employment.”

This was the first capitalist system and the colony then prospered. As America embraces socialism and human secularism, let us remember that only 41 men began a nation with their signatures. We have far greater numbers today. As we commemorate the 402nd Anniversary of the Mayflower Compact on November 11, let us return to the purity and purpose of this foundational covenant of governing in all due submission and obedience to God and the advancement of the Christian faith. Let us deliberately and intentionally reclaim, as Bradford’s reminder from the grave “what our forefathers with so much difficulty secured.” As Christ said in Matthew 19:26, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”

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Bill Wilson