The state is the corporate body of a people in a given territory. Take away jurisdictional authority, the state -- if not the nation -- ceases to exist. The fight of the Plymouth settlers to establish government over the territory in which they lived went to them by default of higher authority to grant incorporation. The patents of 1621 and 1630, however, gave proprietary rights to the soil but recognized no right to form corporate government. This the Pilgrims took upon themselves, and could they have done, hypothetically, the impossible of divesting themselves of citizenship of England or any other parent state, their self- incorporation would have been valid. But as transplanted English- men, without conferral of a charter from the crown of England, their act of self-determination would always be in question. Nevertheless, the Pilgrims thought of themselves as bound in a corporate state, which had full authority over a definite territory.
It is not the purpose here to probe the landholding system of Plymouth Colony -- it was a rather routine pattern similar to the other New England colonies and was a natural working out of