Founding the American Nation

Today we celebrate the Independence of the United States of America. With the signing of a powerfully worded document thirteen English colonies broke the bonds of brotherhood and rule that connected them to a people across the Atlantic Ocean.

But when did the seeds of a unified nation independent from its British heritage first take root? You might be surprised. Here are some lines from a document written and signed more than 100 years before the Declaration of Independence. Take special notice of the reasons cited by the colonists for coming to America.

Articles of Confederation between the Plantations under the Government of Massachusetts, the Plantations under the Government of New Plymouth, the Plantations under the Government of Connecticut, and the Government of New Haven, with the Plantations in combination therewith.

Whereas we all came into these parts of America with one an the same end and aim, namely to advance the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ and to enjoy the Liberties of the Gospel in purity with peace. . . . we therefore do conceive it our bounden duty without delay to enter into a present Consociation amongst ourselves for mutual help and strength in all our future concernments. That as in Nation and Religion, so in other respects, we be and continue One…

From the Constitution of the New England Confederation, dated 19 May 1643.

Source: Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 by William Bradford, A New Edition (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 430-431.

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