Though the Pilgrims had no charter, they formed a government upon the most liberal principles. They had a governor, who was chosen by the people, and whose power was limited by a council of five. For more than eighteen years the whole male population were the legislators.
They were the pioneers of religious freedom—the openers of an asylum in the New World, to which the persecuted for religion’s sake, and political opinions, have been flocking from that day to this. Says Governor Bradford, in his history of the colony: “Out of small beginnings great things have been produced, by His hand that made all things out of nothing; and as one small candle will light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone to many, yea, to our whole nation.”
Source: Jackman, William J. History of the American Nation Volume I, Chapter 11: 1624-1655 Massachussets Bay.