With the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Pilgrims a little more than a year away, it is important to demonstrate the ideological roots of covenant that they expressed in the Mayflower Compact as well as the consistent preaching on Biblical covenant by the clergy in the colonies that resulted in the Declaration of Independence 156 years later. The foundational documents of religious and civil liberty in America are rooted in Biblical covenant and these ideas have been emulated by nations around the globe.
Stephen Hopkins was baptized on the 30th of April, 1581 in Upper Clatford, Hampshire, England. The adventures he would experience due to his desire for liberty of conscience could scarcely be equaled by any other who would come on the Mayflower. Stephen was the only passenger to have previously been in Jamestown prior to his arrival in Plymouth. There are lessons to learn from anyone’s life, but Stephen Hopkins’ life yields key lessons that drew him to come with the Pilgrims in 1620. The impact of his father who taught him skills of survival and self-defense just before he passed, equaled that of his mother who raised the family as a widow with great determination.
On January 1, 1776, while the British laid siege to Boston, George Washington raised the Grand Union Flag on Prospect Hill near his headquarters in Cambridge. It was the first flag of the united colonies. It was known as the Congress Colors, the First Navy Ensign and the Cambridge Flag and could be considered the official flag of the American Revolution. It had 13 red and white stripes and a blue field with the red cross of St. George of England and the white cross of St. Andrew of Scotland.
The Declaration of Independence was always considered inseparable with the Constitution since every charter by necessity must have a set of by-laws. However, in our day, as Americans celebrate the 242nd birth of their nation on the 4th of July, they may do so without an understanding that the truths declared in that charter is the foundation upon which our liberties rest. We have become accustomed to selective constitutional obedience in large part because we no longer interpret it from the premises set forth in the Declaration.