Editing history beyond recognition: Mayflower Compact

In Uncategorized on December 15, 2008 at 1:40 pm

If you have a child of school age, and they have a textbook that takes note of “The Mayflower Compact,” will you please compare the text presented there, to the original text? Leaving off the signatures, the original (courtesy The Avalon Project at Yale) reads:

IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour 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. IN WITNESS whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini; 1620.

The subject comes up because yesterday, at a The Truth Project seminar, I was informed that some current textbooks omit references to God or the promotion of the Christian faith, leaving the colonists to be only people out to “plant the first colony” in that part of the world.

If your child has a textbook more or less making Pilgrims out to be secularists out for their own ends, please fill in the gaps yourself. It is a sad thing when a child is given a false heritage. Besides, whether or not you can understand the motivation of early American settlers, can we agree that to baldly misrepresent them by sneaky omissions from their writings is both silly and unfair?

If you do have a textbook with a Dowdified text (i.e. one that uses ellipsis to change the meaning to better suit the editor’s purposes), please do me the favor of dropping into the comments here the name of the book, and what it puts forth as The Mayflower Compact. I have no reason to doubt my source, but I also haven’t got verification yet. Thanks.

Cross-posted at Suitable For Mixed Company (under a different title).

  1. I am a leader of 2 small groups for the Truth Project. We just finished Project 6 tonight and heard about the Mayflower Compact. I finally found a reference to what they were talking about. At the following website the author discusses a study and names a school book where references to God were taken out.

    I find this appalling and extremely sad, though not unexpected in today’s world! The blatant lies and disregard for the TRUTH that our country was founded by Christians as well as our govt being founded by Christians is rampant. Hope this helps you find some of what you are looking for.
    God bless and keep you and your family my friend and brother in Christ!

    Love in Christ,
    David Jesser

  2. I’ve been a history teacher for six years. My father has been one for several decades.

    Never once have we come across a textbook that omits the religious language of the Mayflower Compact. In fact, never once have we come across a textbook that failed to emphasize the religious motivations of the Puritans. In many cases, the books err on the side of overemphasizing the role Christianity played in colonization (as opposed to economics in the southern colonies).

    Further, in the Truth Project, while decrying the editing of a text, Tackett EDITS THE TEXT of the Mayflower Compact, omitting the lengthy dedication to the king that precedes the text of the compact.

    There are real battles to fight in historical education. We shouldn’t cheapen them by flying off half-cocked like this.

    • Well, regardless, linds, (I’m also the kid of a teacher), there may still be something out there apart from your dad’s experience. So, instead of defending a ghost, I suggest we check out the facts.

      Changing a quote or revising History is wrong. Tackett, by the way, was not quoting the Mayflower Compact or he should have quoted the king. He was merely telling of the God omission only, the way I understood it from him on the program, which I, myself viewed. And it certainly is a significant omission. That should be obvious.

      So, I ordered the textbook referred to in the above blog and will see it myself ! Thanks for being interested and I hope that you realize that this type of editing is not really ‘editing’ at all but a serious illegal omission. Just not cool. Not to mention, wrong.

  3. I am a highschool teacher (I don’t teach history, I teach math) and on the day before Thanksgiving for the past couple of years I have asked my students to write down the answer to the question “why did the pilgrims come to this country?” Nearly all the kids have answered the question “for religious freedom”. Of a couple hundred kids none of them said “for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian Faith”. I had one student write “to start a new church/religion”.

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