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The most ingenious and the most eloquent of modern historical discourses can, after all, be nothing more than a comment on a text.



This compact was signed by the whole body of men, forty-one in number, belonging to the Pilgrim Company, on board the Mayflower, December 11, 1620, the day before the landing at Plymouth. Although not strictly germane to the general subject of these documents, it is introduced here as it is so frequently referred to in books on government. See Bancroft, Hist. U.S., Vol. I., p. 205, last edition ; Hildreth, Hist. U. S., Vol. 1., p. 158; Palfrey, Hist. New England, Vol. 1., p. 162; Frothingham, Rise of the Republic, p. 15; Doyle, English Colonies I., Puritan Colonies, P. 158, and The American Government, Chap. I.

In the name of God, Amen; We, whose names are underwritten, the loyall subjects of our dread soveraigne, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britaine, France, and Ireland King, defender of the faith, etc., haveing undertaken, for the glorie of God, and advancemente of the Christian faith and honor of our king and countrie, a voyage to plant the first colonie in the Northerne parts of Virginia, doe, by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one of 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 vertue heareof, to enacte, constitute, and frame, such just and equall laws, ordenances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meete and convenient for the generall good of the Colonie. Unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witnes whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names, at Cap Codd, the inth of November, in the year of the raigne of our sovereigne lord, King James, of England, France, and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini, 1620.


This Confederation was formed for protection against the Dutch on the Hudson River and the Indians.

The original suggestion came from Connecticut in 1637. The Commissioners of Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, and New Haven signed the articles May 19, 1643. Plymouth gave her approval later. Rhode Island was refused admission to the league for religious reasons. The United Colonies of New England were, therefore, four in number; they comprised at the time the Confederation was formed thirtynine towns and 24,000 people. The union of Connecticut and New Haven in 1662 destroyed the balance of power. The last meeting of the Commissioners was held at Hartford, September 5, 1684. The English historian Chalmers says this Confederation “offers the first example of coalition in Colonial story, and showed to party leaders in after times the advantages of concert." See Palfrey, Vol. I., p. 623; Bancroft, Vol. I., p. 289; Hildreth, Vol. 1., p. 285; Frothingham, p. 39; The American Government, Chap. IV.

ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION. Betweene the plantations vnder the Gouernment of the Massachu

setts, the Plantacons vnder the Gouernment of New Plymouth, the Plantacons vuder the Gouernment of Connectacutt, and the Gouernment of New Haven with the Plantacons in combinacon therewith.

WHEREAS wee all came into these parts of America with one and the same end and ayme, namely, to advaunce the kingdome of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to enjoy the liberties of the Gospell in puritie with peace. And whereas in our settleinge (by a wise Providence of God) we are further dispersed vpon the Sea Coasts and Riuers then was at first intended, so that we cannot according to our desire, with convenience, communicate in one Gouernment and Jurisdiccon. And whereas we live encompassed with people of seuerall Nations and strang languages which heareafter may proue injurious to vs or our posteritie. And forasmuch as the Natives have formerly committed sondry insolences and outrages vpon seueral Plantacons of the English and have of late combined themselues against vs. And seing by reason of those sad Distraccons in England, which they have heard of, and by which they know we are bindred from that

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humble way of seekinge advise or reapeing those comfortable fruits of protection which at other tymes we might well expecte. Wee therefore doe conceiue it our bounden Dutye without delay to enter into a present consotiation amongst ourselues for mutual help and strength in all our future concernements : That as in Nation and Religion, so in other Respects we bee and continue one according to the tenor and true meaninge of the ensuing Articles: Wherefore it is fully agreed and concluded by and betweene the parties or Jurisdiccons aboue named, and they joyntly and seuerally doe by these presents agreed and concluded that they all bee, and henceforth bee called by the Name of the United Colonies of New-England.

II. The said United Colonies, for themselues and their posterities, do joyntly and seuerally, hereby enter into a firme and perpetuall league of friendship and amytie, for offence and defence, mutuall advise and succour, vpon all just occations, both for preserueing and propagateing the truth and liberties of the Gospel, and for their owne mutuall safety and wellfare.

III. It is further agreed that the Plantacons which at present are or hereafter shalbe settled within the limmetts of the Massachusetts, shalbe forever vnder the Massachusetts, and shall have peculiar Jurisdiccon among themselues in all cases as an entire Body, and that Plymouth, Connecktacutt, and New Haven shall eich of them haue like peculier Jurisdiccon and Gouernment within their limmetts and in referrence to the Plantacons which already are settled or shall hereafter be erected or shall settle within their limmetts respectiuely; prouided that no other Jurisdiccon shall hereafter be taken in as a distinct head or member of this Confederacon, nor shall any other Plantacon or Jurisdiccon in present being and not already in combynacon or vnder the Jurisdiccon of any of these Confederats be received by any of them, nor shall any two of the Confederats joyne in one Jurisdiccon without consent of the rest, which consent to be interpreted as is expressed in the sixth Article ensuinge.

IV. It is by these Confederats agreed that the charge of all just warrs, whether offensiue or defensiue, upon what part or member of this Confederaccon soever they fall, shall both in men and provisions, and all other Disbursements, be borue by all the parts of this Confederacon, in different proporcons according to their different abilitie, in manner following, namely, that the Commissioners for eich Jurisdiccon from tyme to tyme, as there shalbe occation, bring a true account and number of all the males in every Plantacon, or any way belonging to, or under their seuerall Jurisdiccons, of what quality or condicion soeuer they bee, from sixteene yeares old to threescore, being Inhabitants there. And That according to the different numbers which from tyme to tyme shalbe found in eich Jurisdiccon, upon

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a true and just account, the service of men and all charges of the warr be borne by the Poll: Eich Jurisdiccon, or Plantacon, being left to their owne just course and custome of rating themselues and people according to their different estates, with due respects to their qualities and exemptions among themselues, though the Confederacon take no notice of any such priviledg: And that according io their different charge of eich Jurisdiccon and Plantacon, the whole advantage of the warr (if it please God to bless their Endeavors, whether it be in lands, goods or persons, shall be proportionably deuided among the said Confederats.

V. It is further agreed That if any of these Jurisdiccons, or any Plantacons vnder it, or in any combynacon with them be envaded by any enemie whomsoeuer, upon notice and request of any three majestrats of that Jurisdiccon so invaded, the rest of the Confederates without any further meeting or expostulacon, shall forthwith send ayde to the Confederate in danger, but in different proporcons, namely, the Massachusetts an hundred men sufficiently armed and provided for such a service and jorney, and eich of the rest fourtyfiue so armed and provided, or any lesse number, if lesse be required, according to this proporcon. But if such Confederate, in danger may be supplyed by their next Confederate, not exceeding the number hereby agreed, they may craue help there, and seeke no further for the present. The charge to be borne as in this Article is exprest: And, at the returve, to be victualled and supplyed with poder and shott for their journey (if there be neede) by that Jurisdiccon which employed or sent for them: But none of the Jurisdiccons to exceed these numbers till by a meeting of the Commissioners for this Confederacon a greater ayd appeare necessary. And this proporcon to continue, till upon knowledge of greater numbers in eich Jurisdiccor which shalbe brought to the next meeting some other proporcon be ordered. But in any such case of sending men for present ayd whether before or after such order or alteracon, it is agreed that at the meeting of the Commissioners for this Confederacon, the cause of such warr or invasion be duly considered: And if it appeare that the fault lay in the parties so invaded, that then that Jurisdiccon or Plantacon make just Satisfaccon, both to the Invaders whom they have injured, and beare all the charges of the warr themselves without requireing any allowance from the rest of the Confederats towards the same. And further, that if any Jurisdiccon see any danger of any Invasion approaching, and there be tyme for a meeting, that in such case three majestrats of that Jurisdiccon may summon a meeting at such convenyent place as themselues shall think meete, to consider and provide against the threatned danger, Provided when they are met they may remoue to what place they please, Onely

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whilst any of these foure Confederats have but three majestrats in their Jurisdiccon, their request or summons from any two of them shalbe accounted of equall force with the three mentoned in both the clauses of this Article, till there be an increase of majestrats there.

VI. It is also agreed that for the mannaging and concluding of all affairs

proper and concerneing the whole confederacon two Commissioners shalbe chosen by and out of eich of these foure Jurisdiccons, namely, two for the Mattachusetts, two for Plymouth, two for Connectacutt and two for New Haven; being all in Church fellowship with us, which shall bring full power from their seurall generall Courts respectively to heare, examine, weigh and determine all affairs of our warr or peace, leagues, ayds, charges and numbers of men for warr, divission of spoyles and whatsoever is gotten by conquest, receiueing of more Confederats for plantacons into combinacon with any of the Confederates, and all thinges of like nature which are the proper concomitants or consequence of such a confederacon, for amytie, offence and defence, not intermeddleing with the gouernment of any of the Jurisdiccons which by the third Article is preserued entirely to themselves. But if these eight Commissioners, when they meete, shall not all agree, yet it is concluded that any six of the eight agreeing shall have power to settle and determine the business in question: But if six do not agree, that then such proposicons with their reasons, so farr as they have beene debated, be sent and referred to the foure generall Courts, vizt. tbe Mattachusetts, Plymouth, Connectacutt, and New Haven: And if at all the said Generall Courts the businesse so referred be concluded, then to bee prosecuted by the Confederates and all their members. It is further agreed that these eight Commissioners shall meete once every yeare, besides extraordinary meetings (according to the fift Article) to consider, treate and conclude of all affaires belonging to this Confederacon, which meeting shall ever be the first Thursday in September. And that the next meeting after the date of these presents, which shalbe accounted the second meeting, shalbe at Bostone in the Massachusetts, the third at Hartford, the fourth at New Haven, the fift at Plymouth, the sixt and seaventh at Bostone. And then Hartford, New Haven and Plymouth, and so in course successiuely, if in the meane tyme some middle place be not found out and agreed on which may be commodious for all the jurisdiccons.

VII. It is further agreed that at eich meeting of these eight Commissioners, whether ordinary or extraordinary, they, or six of them agreeing as before, may choose their President out of themselues, whose office and worke shalbe to take care and direct for order and a comely carrying on of all proceedings in the present meeting. But he shalbe invested with no such power or respect as by which he

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