If you have five minutes and a curious nature about American history, I would suggest this short read. It's a short piece over the "agreement" (the compact) that the Pilgrims made, as they were on the bay and going to plan "B".
We Americans have a tendency to plan broadly, and arrive at some mess when at the final destination. Don't ask why....it's probably because we don't think like Germans, or anticipate failure.
The Pilgrims had more or less left Europe in a slight hurry. Various factions were against the religious group (some might go to refer to them as "cult-like"). At any moment....either the Catholic Church, the King, or some other authority with a stance against them....would react and cause chaos by arresting or apprehending them. So this exodus to America....was a quickly planned thought, and not a lot of research went into "where" they might make a permanent stand.
To be honest....if you were going to settle in the new world and knew a bit about everything.....you'd likely have reached the conclusion that almost every bit of America along the coastal regions (by twenty miles) has a sandy soil. It's simply not prime agricultural property. A guy could be mildly happy, but it'd be best to run up some coastal river by two hundred miles and avoid the coast.
Few history professors ever talk about the original plan....going to the Hudson Bay around New York City. If they had landed there...instead of Plymouth Rock? History would have run a different course. No friendly Indian tribe in the local area. More chances of failure....than success.
So you had a bunch of unhappy folks on the ship....contemplating a forced plan "B", and this compact or agreement becomes the only method to force everyone to sign on and just plain accept plan "B" as OK.
Would something like this compact work today? No. You couldn't get forty-one out of forty-one guys....to sign such a document. Most would ask questions. They'd want a plan "C". They'd ask who devised plan "B". They'd debate this for days....maybe weeks.
Forty-one guys signed for what amounted to a mostly half-baked plan "B". It was.....mostly a screwed up location and no alternate possibility existing. This piece of paper that all had to sign....was the only thing to bind them. Their word, their signature.....to a simple piece of paper.
Today, for better or worse....we are the same people. We are guided by hopeless romantics with no idea of executive management, chaos in daily life, no real plan "B", determination that runs like a raging river, and pondering that deeply worries the minds of most people.
In four hundred years.....we are mostly the same crowd, and damn proud of it.