The Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC is displaying a 410-year-old bill of sale for the Mayflower to celebrate the anniversary of the signing that took place on Nov. 11, 1620.
A group of Puritans set out on a long voyage 400 years ago in pursuit of independence and the freedom to worship according to their beliefs. After completing the journey, they gathered in Massachusetts and signed the Mayflower Compact.
These early settlers created a written document that foresaw a community where members of society would form a “body politick” to determine their own laws “thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony.”
Years later, the notion that a community could establish their own laws, choose their leaders, and worship freely would influence America’s founders and their pursuit to write the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
“The Pilgrims were remarkable in some ways, but also very ordinary in others,” said Dr. Anthony Schmidt, senior curator at Museum of the Bible. “They overcame significant obstacles in their quest for greater freedom and opportunity. They possessed many of the same hopes that we do today, but also many of the same fears and prejudices.”
The bill of sale or indenture was between Peter Hills and his nephew, Robert Bell, of Redriffe, England. Hills sold his share in 13 merchant ships to Bell, including “The Mayflowere” in 1610.
The “Mayflowere” listed in the document was potentially the Mayflower that brought the Pilgrims to New England in 1620.
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