By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: William Bradford of Plymouth
Author: Plumb, Albert Hale
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "William Bradford of Plymouth" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)

    [Illustration: Copyright by A. S. Burbank, Plymouth, Mass.







    All Rights Reserved

    Made in the United States of America

    The Gorham Press, Boston, U. S. A.







It is a pleasing task to record afresh the life course of one of those
whom the poet Whittier characterized as "the noblest ancestry that ever
a people looked back to with love and reverence."

The leading authorities, particularly the Pilgrim narrators themselves
and those more nearly contemporary with them, have contributed to this
biography. Though early Plymouth events and the career of Bradford are
inseparably connected, the colonial history is here limited and made
subservient to the personal consideration, with regret that there do not
appear more obtainable data of this nature. Undoubtedly the Governor's
modest reticence largely accounts for this. We can only be thankful that
we have what we have.

        ALBERT H. PLUMB.



    THE BOY                                 11

    THE PILGRIM                             23

    THE GOVERNOR: EARLY DUTIES              41


    THE GOVERNOR: LAST ACTS                 89




    _Earth's transitory things decay,
    Its pomps, its pleasures pass away;
    But the sweet memory of the good
    Survives in the vicissitude._

        J. BOWRING.

The world has nothing more worthy of our regard than its unconscious
heroes. Though many can discern their own true importance, a peculiar
charm invests such as do not realize it, even if they are told. They
seem to think others would have done better in their place, and they
lightly estimate their services, at less than their fellow-men accredit
them. His ideal of duty captivates the doer more than his own agency
therein. The noblest men are made by the contemplation of their models.
Like the great Apostle, they are not disobedient unto the heavenly
vision. Among earth's worthies, modest and unconscious of greatness,
there stands the figure of William Bradford.

We find him first as a native of Austerfield, England, on the south
border of Yorkshire. There is no official record of his birth. But in
addition to his own declaration of age when first married, the clearly
legible record of his baptism, March 19, 1589, would indicate that by
the modern calendar he was born in 1590. The garments worn by him at the
chapel March 19-29, being a short white linen covering and mitts which
came for exhibition to Essex Institute in Salem, Massachusetts, are the
apparel of a small babe.

The affirmation of Bradford, as a man thoroughly established in his
integrity and his accuracy of statement, this declaration in the
important matter of his marriage contract when he was required to
subscribe his own signature, must be accepted as more weighty than the
opinions given by others regarding his age in later years of his life,
and the posthumous inscription placed long afterward on his monument. It
is unlikely that he was consulted about his age, for any future epitaph,
since even the necessary making of his will was deferred to the day of
his death. Not long before his nuptials on December 10-20, 1613, he
averred that he was twenty-three; and, supposing an error of his quite
improbable here, our conclusion appears justified that he was born in
1590 by the Gregorian calendar. We also have no reason to doubt an old
claim that his natal month was the same as his baptismal, March.
Besides, the rule existed then, that the rite should be administered one
week after birth. If this contemporary custom was followed, William saw
the light of day March 12, 1589, by Old Style, or March 22, 1590, New

It is unfortunate that the baptismal font, despite efforts to purchase
it back, has not yet, to our knowledge, been yielded by the Methodist
church in Lound, Nottinghamshire, and restored to its proper place at
Saint Helen's in Austerfield. The Austerfield font at present we do not
accept as the genuine original. That original one at Saint Helen's about
the time of our Civil War seems to have been a victim to the generally
weaker antiquarian interest then, and it was replaced by a high basin.
It came back soon but evidently was unused, lying upon the floor aside.
Then a sexton was ordered to take out and sell superfluous articles.
After resting on an estate as a garden stone, it was given to a lady
from Austerfield, who loaned it indefinitely to the church mentioned. It
is a large Norman bowl, rough-hewn and of ancient aspect, which when in
use was for convenience set upon a wooden block.

When the tolling bells above the small stone chapel summoned the
Bradford family and friends to the solemn service, little did they
discern, with all their natural affection, any unusual significance in
that consecration of a life to be expended far from the quiet hamlet of
old England in a growing community of New England.

As the child came to an age of sufficient understanding, how strongly
must this humble shrine have appealed to him, with the development of
his proclivities guided by one circumstance after another! It was
erected during the twelfth century, in the centre of the village, when
the rustic parish was presented by a person of rank for the support of a
chaplain. Doubtless the lad's eyes often scrutinized the zigzag Norse
symbol of lightning, and other ornamentation, carved upon the double
arch under which he was wont to enter.

The whole region was rich in historic interest to any reflective mind.
It was the battle ground of Briton, Roman and Anglo-Saxon. It formed the
heart of the Danish territory, opposite their native continental shores.
The Robin Hood marauders operated through this sparsely settled North of
England, where the last of several uprisings against the South was
attempted only about a score of years before Bradford's birth. The
people were comparatively rude and uneducated, with few schools; and
papal influence yielded more slowly away from the governmental
headquarters. If Mary Queen of Scots had not been executed shortly
before the Puritan churches arose, it is difficult to see how or when
they could have lived so near her seat of power. But Elizabeth, in her
laudable aim to uplift the nation by improving the people and repressing
the nobles, encouraged the incoming of tens of thousands of Dutch, of
whom many flocked to the fair lowlands east and north, imparting their
tolerant ideas, bestowing names upon numerous localities, and producing
a marked effect in the speech and blood of the inhabitants. The Queen
required every family of Hollanders to take an English apprentice in
their imported arts and crafts. Thus England changed rapidly from a
country merely agricultural to one also manufacturing, where industry
was pursued in weaving cloth and in glass, pottery, iron and various
metals, wrought not in factories at first but in private houses as once
was commonly done in New England.

The religious effect of this immigration was not in the royal reckoning;
for much as Elizabeth hated the papacy, she despised its counterpart, as
quite too good for her liking, namely, the body of her subjects which
represented an intelligent faith, and holy practice according to the
accepted dictates of a revered, studied and intensely cherished Sacred
Scripture. Though she could do no more than patronize, from political
motives, any order of spiritual devotion as long as she herself would
not learn to love devoutly, she failed to realize that the infusion of
the virile Puritan element, regardless of racial strain, in the field of
religion saved her authorized church from relapsing into Romanism. Her
successor, James, was a fit son of Mary of Scotland, in his intolerance
towards Puritans, Protestants though they were.

Austerfield itself, though having less than three hundred residents, was
the scene of a great session in 702, when the Archbishop of Canterbury
and the bishops of almost all England met with King Aldfrid to hear the
complaint of Wilfred the Bishop of York, who was so ardent a Romanist
that the former king had deposed him. The English under Aldfrid won
against the papal party, but before the venerable Wilfred died he was
restored to office and canonized, and the first Puritan assembly after
coming to Scrooby gathered awhile in a stone church named for him.

Bradford's native town also, despite its quiet rural beauty, lay upon
the Great Northern Road to Scotland, as now on the railroad named after
it the express comes thundering by from the grimy granite houses of
Edinboro, bound for the mighty metropolis before midnight of the
afternoon it started. But the old dirt road was only a few feet wide,
almost a stranger to horse-drawn vehicles, especially pleasure
carriages, even the ladies of the Elizabethan era using mostly their
mounts, as those in America later rode on their pillions.

More agreeable, locally, were the meadow paths along the Idle, and other
leisurely streams of this boy's neighborhood. His family name was
originally applied to those who lived at some convenient Broad Ford,
many desirable crossings having some descriptive or defining term, like
Ox Ford and Cam Bridge.

His taste for Latin might well have been intensified by the very name of
his Austerfield, which, earlier than the Anglo-Saxon localities, was
probably named for the imperial Roman commander Ostorius, who had a
defensive earthwork at his station near here. Its remains attested its
military importance. And though the northern peasantry in young
William's time were so untutored or morally lax, or both, that they were
unacquainted with even their English Bible, it is not strange if these
historical associations induced the more intelligent and refined yeomen
to possess Latin books. It has been supposed that his own family owned
them, with English works, all of which were rare and costly; and in
addition to this likelihood, it is known that Rev. Mr. Silvester of
Alkly had a classical collection in his own library. As this clergyman
was a family friend and the guardian of William's cousins, the
Austerfield boy would naturally become a visitor at the neighboring

Wills and records indicate that the Bradfords in general were of good
repute and moved in the best society of that too decadent period. The
Austerfield branch were yeomen, once so important in the English commons
that they ranked next to the gentry.

At the north end of the village the house still stands which tradition
claims as our Bradford's birthplace. It is of substantial brick,
exceedingly rare in his day and a sign of social distinction. Many
houses of the time were quite attractive in appearance with their red
roofs, green shutters and yellow doorsteps. This is a ruddy cottage from
fluted tiling down to the grass, and sufficiently large to comprise two
tenements now.

The boy's grandfather William and maternal grandfather John Hanson were
the only mentioned owners of property in their small town in 1575, and
he inherited in time a good patrimony. His father William died in 1591,
his mother Alice soon after, and the paternal grandfather, in whose care
he was left, expired not until January of 1596, the only ancestor the
third William would be likely to remember. Then the simple life and talk
of the farm ceased, on the part of those who would converse with the lad
on their common interests and show the most of natural affection toward
him. The charge over his life by his uncles Thomas and Robert was one of
legal imposition rather than a matter of love. Robert naturally wished
him to be a farmer, but permitted him to study when he proved not very
rugged at first.

Before he was twelve, an illness of long continuance coming upon him,
youthful intelligence and spiritual sensitiveness were developed in him
untroubled by temptations more liable in physical vigor. Denied the
warmth of family affection, and for a season the wholesome sports of
youth, while naturally made more serious also as an orphan, the boy
delighted in the contemplation of religious truth, particularly in Bible
study; and this became with him a lifelong habit.

Over the line in Nottinghamshire a few miles away, lay another small
town, Scrooby, where one William Brewster was postmaster, well qualified
as a collegiate and public official, to teach history and civil
government. He occupied an ancient manor and commodious hostelry which
royalty had twice coveted. Within its spacious halls were wont to gather
a few earnest souls who were discontented with the empty formalism so
common in religious profession at that time, and they were restive under
the super-abundant authority of the state in church matters. They
insisted on freedom of the individual conscience, from either civil or
ecclesiastical domination, and were also convinced that genuine
Christianity called for a Christlike life. This was nothing less than
Puritanism, which as a term was originally coined by its foes in
contempt, but later became a name of honor and glory. Though long in
preparing, since Wycliffe gave to the English people the Holy Scriptures
in their own familiar speech, this movement was only now coming to its
full fruition; and the group of earnest worshipers in Scrooby, who had
first organized at Gainsboro in 1602, composed the earliest Puritan
church to stand and prosper, others following in a multitude as the
cause gained momentum.

Brewster was made Elder at Scrooby, and the boy Bradford was one of the
charter members. He accepted the instruction of kind friends who were
glad to satisfy his eager thirst for spiritual knowledge. Conspicuous
among these was Rev. Richard Clyfton of Babworth, who ministered to the
new church for a short time until their permanent pastor was secured,
the devout and learned John Robinson. But before the church was formed
in Gainsboro and Scrooby, when Bradford was hardly twelve he walked
every Sunday over the fields to Babworth, six or seven miles from
Austerfield, joining Brewster at Scrooby on the way. The Elder was made
Postmaster in the year his future Governor was born, and the two
Williams were lifelong intimates. Religiously he was like a father to
the boy.

With this unchecked expansion of his soul, young William's intellect was
also awakened. Though at first forbidden advanced schooling, he became a
self-taught man, a thoughtful student of history, philosophy and
theology, proficient also in linguistics, as the classic Latin and
Greek, and late in life, the original Hebrew of the Old Testament.

His joining with the Separatists from the Established State Church of
England was an act which offended his relatives and early acquaintances,
who tried in vain to make him abandon his stand; for he could not,
consistently with his convictions, comply with their desires. It was
observed that "neither could the wrath of his uncles, nor the scoff of
his neighbors, now turned upon him as one of the Puritans, divert him
from his pious inclinations". Thus he answered them, "To keep a good
conscience and walk in such a way as God has prescribed in his word is a
thing which I shall prefer above you all, and above life itself."

Government officers soon discovered this company of Dissenters, stopped
their meetings, and proceeded to make arrests. In the autumn of 1607
when seventeen years of age, Bradford and his associates endeavored to
go over to Holland, where religious liberty was allowed. He was one of
the chief advocates of this measure. But the ship master that was to
take them betrayed their plan to the authorities, who sent the Puritans
into prison at Boston in Lincolnshire. Next spring the same attempt was
made, unsuccessfully again; for their rulers neither granted them
freedom at home nor emigration abroad. But before that year of 1608
passed, the victims of persecution escaped one after another, by various
means, across the water to Amsterdam. Bradford's ship encountered a
seven days' storm and was driven out of its course hundreds of miles,
close to Norway, even the mariners giving up in despair. The Pilgrims
remained calm, though unused to the sea; and our hero was heard to
repeat in prayer, with his companions, "Yet, Lord, thou canst save."

On reaching Holland, an envious passenger accused him as having fled
from England as a culprit, and he was taken before the magistrates, who,
however, willingly released him when the truth was known.

Leyden was the Pilgrims' rendezvous. The place was congenial to the
ardent spirit of this youth, and he became a student at the University
there. He must have heard in England as a boy, how the martyr John
Bradford, chaplain to Edward VI and one of the most acceptable preachers
in the realm, because of his religious principles had been burned to
death, in the reign of Bloody Mary. And the people of Leyden could
recite for sympathetic ears, the tales of heroic and successful
resistance against King Philip of Spain only thirty years before these
Puritan refugees from intolerance arrived.

William now went about to earn a living. As an apprentice to a French
Protestant, he learned the trade of dying silk, and doubtless, beside
his Dutch, acquired here his thorough familiarity with the French
language so widely used even in those days.



    _The best inheritance they have left us is the New England
    conscience. The Puritan's habit of self-examination and prayer
    has left its impress on the habit of thought of the great nation
    that has risen where he showed the way._

        Governor Guild of Massachusetts, at the four hundredth
        anniversary of the birth of Calvin, in Geneva, Switzerland,
        July 9, 1909.

    _Religious faith must ever be the motive power of humanity, and
    whatever might become of despotism, with or without, it is
    absolutely essential to democracy._

        Governor Hughes of New York, at the Champlain Tercentenary,
        Vermont, July 9, 1909.

    _Religion is the only thing upon which to rest our salvation in
    these times. It is religious principles to which our
    Commonwealth owes its greatness._

        Governor Calvin Coolidge of Massachusetts, at the twenty-fifth
        anniversary of the Lord's Day League, Boston, 1920.

On reaching the age of twenty-one, our Bradford became the possessor of
his native estate in England, which he sold, as then useless for him to
hold. But well he knew, that the recantation of his faith would restore
him to independence and presumably to the favor of the Austerfield
community. What lay in the future for him he could not conceive. He took
the sale money and ventured in some commercial enterprise, but did not
prosper in it. His career was to be of more importance than the business
of a merchant.

After turning twenty-two, he was admitted, on proof and security, a
citizen of Leyden, as William Bradford, Englishman. In the end of the
next year his marriage bans were published, and he was registered as a
worker in fustian, a coarse cloth of cotton and flax. On December 20,
1613, he wedded Dorothy May, aged sixteen, formerly of Cambridge, and
probably the granddaughter of John May, Bishop of Carlisle in 1577. Her
autograph, "Dority May," appears in her marriage contract. Bradford,
when in America later, had friendly correspondence with her father in

While in Leyden now, he had the joy of perceiving the rapid growth of
the Puritan fellowship there, numbering finally almost three hundred.
Purchasing considerable land, they settled in a community by themselves.
Robinson, their spiritual head, was held in much esteem throughout the
city, for his noble character and fine abilities. Bradford in written
eulogy ascribes to him "y^e tender love & godly care of a true pastor."

Yet in spite of the hospitality of Holland, the condition was not normal
nor the prospects ideal, for an English settlement among those of
foreign speech. The rising generation would naturally affiliate with
their neighbors, entering the Dutch army and society; and the outcome
promised to be a blend of blood and customs. The truce between Holland
and Spain would be over in 1619; and the Thirty Years War was already
rising in Europe. Wishing to preserve their national character and
distinct religious order, they meditated emigration as a colony. In this
the foreign missionary motive was also strong, freely acknowledged, and
always remembered. "A great hope & inward zeall they had," Bradford
later recorded, "of laying some good foundation, or at least to make
some way thereunto, for y^e propagating & advancing y^e gospell of y^e
kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of y^e world; yea, though they
should be but even as stepping-stones unto others for y^e performing of
so great a work."

They were dissuaded from the tropical enticements of Spanish American
neighborhoods by the recollection of Spain's interests and ambitions
there. The vote was indeed close, to go to any part of the strange
western world; and our hero, being in favor of it, may have been
required to turn the hesitating weight of opinion that way.

But if residence in the British dominion, near or far, was preferable,
some sort of recognition by the English government was necessary. This
was a hard thing to secure, yet King James finally gave a reluctant
verbal consent to their desired settlement in some remoter territory,
where they would afford him and his servile clericals the least
annoyance, while helping to establish the empire as respectable and
industrious citizens.

Royal toleration having been cautiously granted, the next task was to
secure financial patronage. It was a task indeed, yet the Pilgrims, as
these Separatist Puritans now called themselves, were happy in finding
not only creditors who risked loans for mercantile considerations
solely, but distinguished persons who were in sympathy with their
Christian zeal and purity, as Sir Robert Naunton, Secretary of State to
the King, and particularly Sir Edwin Sandys, a most worthy and
influential man. For three years, however, the business negotiations
dragged on, whose dreary details we will not rehearse, between the
Puritans with their friends on one side, and on the other the failing or
insecure London and old Plymouth colonial companies, the proffered Dutch
sponsors whose kindness nevertheless looked to the Hudson and New
Amsterdam, and finally the company of Merchant Adventurers, to whom the
enterprising but unscrupulous Thomas Weston introduced the Pilgrims. He
was useful to them in this crisis, because he procured their financial
backing and made possible the journey to America. This benefit Bradford
never forgot, despite all the falsehood, treachery, and ingratitude
which Weston developed, who almost caused the ruin of the undertaking
after he was weary of it and involved in difficulties through his

The colonial plan was that the younger and more able of the Leyden
community should go overseas at first, to prepare the way for the
others; and it was well that Bradford and the most of his
fellow-voyagers had the advantage of youthful prime, for the stern days
of pioneering.

The parting from their friends, on the embarkation at Delft Haven, was a
sad experience, between the doubtful attractiveness of a distant savage
land and the fact that it was likely to be, as it proved, a final
leavetaking for many. Pastor Robinson, on his knees at the quay, poured
out fervent petitions for their comrades about to go, commending them to
divine protection. So affecting was the scene, that even the Dutch
strangers beholding were moved to tears. Our Forefather wrote concerning
this, "so they left the goodly and pleasant city, which had been their
resting-place near twelve years; but they knew they were pilgrims, and
looked not much on those things, but lift up their eyes to the heavens,
their dearest country and quieted their spirits."

The Speedwell which conveyed them came in a few days to Southampton, to
find the Mayflower from London waiting for them, with their brethren of
England. Picture the youthful adventurers in their ardor to set forth as
pioneers to a land of comparative freedom. But the sailing was badly
delayed, to their weariness and loss, while they protested against
impossible terms of subservience to the Merchant Adventurers, who would
have deprived the prospective planters of their independence. Then a
hundred pounds extra was required "to clear things at their going away";
and to raise this amount they had to sell some of their provisions,
their leather for mending shoes, swords, muskets, much armor and various
things seemingly indispensable.

Before setting sail, a letter was received from Pastor Robinson, in
which he mingled encouragement and sound counsel, urging them to fortify
their souls by prayer, to preserve unity, exercise mutual patience and
forbearance in their close relationship, and to submit to their own
rules and chosen officers. Other wise advice was opportunely given,
which was well received and profitably followed.

About the middle of August the colonists launched forth. But their
relief on going was short, for, by enough evidence and subsequent
confession, the Speedwell was tampered with by her false and timorous
Captain Reynolds, so that the vessels put back to port for another
tedious period, eleven days, ostensibly for repairs. Starting a second
time, Reynolds' ship sprang a leak again, and though three hundred miles
out they were obliged to return. The creeping Speedwell was therefore
abandoned, her passengers and cargo transferred to the Mayflower
according to that larger ship's capacity; and after much kindness and
acceptable entertainment by certain friends at old Plymouth, the
Pilgrims, one hundred and two in number, ventured out the third time,
and not in vain. This was September 6, or 16 by New Style.

Mild weather and favoring winds were theirs at first, and the
equinoctial rudeness tarried till the voyagers were nearly halfway
across the Atlantic. Then they paid dearly for the wicked delays imposed
upon them, for a succession of storms soon broke upon them in October.
The west wind rushed upon them from the American north coasts, as if to
forbid their approach. The mariners were once more in doubt about
proceeding, as the upper works were strained, and a main beam amidships
had cracked and bent. But by means of a huge iron screw, it was restored
to position; and the discontented crew stood to their duty, since also
the western shore was about as near as England. Sometimes drifting under
bare poles over high seas, the top-heavy, overloaded vessel nevertheless
refused to founder, and late in October fair weather returned.

After dawn one November morning they sighted land, and recognized Cape
Cod, well known to previous mariners. This landfall was evidently the
Highlands of Truro. Steering south-west while well out, they encountered
the shoals off Chatham, at the elbow of the Cape, and resolved to
abandon the run under New England to the Hudson. Captain Jones
practically took the matter into his own hands, and conveyed the
sea-weary voyagers back and around the tip of the Cape, anchoring in the
nearest available harbor, at present Provincetown, on Saturday, November
21, New Style.

Bradford says that before entering the harbor, they drew up a compact as
"y^e first foundation of their governments in this place," to which he
and all the men of the incipient Colony affixed their signatures. This
classic document of essential democracy was a swift and prudent
precaution against insubordination, which a few ultra-independent souls
had threatened to show, declaring that on landing they would do as they
pleased, since in New England they were not under the authority of their
patent for Virginia. It was English territory, however, and in the
beginning of the statement they professed themselves "loyal subjects" of
King James. Better to have the protection of an unsympathetic sovereign
than to become the prey of a lawless and irresponsible anarchy. Thus
"before they came ashore," they secured themselves against despotism's
opposite extreme. It was a timely act, done on the day of debarkation.

The Mayflower boxed the compass, rounding the tip of the Cape and
feeling her way in the circular harbor there. The inner beaches are
shallow, and it seems even the longboat, though launched three-quarters
of a mile off, could not be brought near the strand. The men were
obliged to wade a bow-shot or two, landing at the insular Long Point,
toward the sea, and carrying back to the boat swamp-cedar, as fire-wood
aboard was gone. The exposure caused illness at this season, which with
later aggravations proved fatal to some. Bradford escaped the "lung
woe," but contracted an acute and critical form of rheumatism, or
confirmed it after the chilly discomforts of the bunks and the sweeping
gales of the voyage.

Yet despite this prolonged cold foot-bath in American brine, he records
that "being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land;
they fell upon their knees and blessed y^e God of heaven; who had
brought them over y^e vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from
all y^e periles and miseries thereof; againe to set their feete on y^e
firm and stable earth, theire proper element."

Though the Mayflower must have anchored before noon on Saturday, the
first full day after arrival was Sunday, and these Pilgrims strangers
had an opportunity to refresh themselves and prepare their souls for
the strenuous business ahead. Also throughout that initial week of life
in America, the weather was mellow and open. Several weeks were required
for repairing the colonists' shallop, which was a means of more delay in
the already very late season. But meanwhile, on the last Wednesday of
November an exploring party started out with Capt. Jones and some
seamen; and in the afternoon sixteen intending settlers followed, armed
and under command of Myles Standish, Masters Bradford, Hopkins and
Edward Tilley "being joined to him for council." They saw Indians, whom
they followed for several miles, but could not come up with them.
Finding much corn buried, they brought some of it to the ship and later
paid the natives for it, after using it for seed. But in this and
another trip on the narrow part of the Cape, they discovered no locality
which suited them for settlement.

As December came in, the protracted mildness changed to a sudden and
intense cold, the ground freezing to a foot's depth, wind and snow also
impeding their operations, while in the boats the congealed spray on
their coats looked like a covering of glass. To add to the awkwardness
of the situation, Capt. Jones threatened to put ashore the whole company
with their families and scanty possessions, and return to England at
once because of the late season and his diminishing food supply, unless
they succeeded in finding a place for habitation. At this juncture
Second Mate Coppin suggested that they look for a harbor somewhere
around in Cape Cod Bay, which he remembered visiting on a fishing
vessel. Accordingly, when December was now half through, ten of the
Pilgrims, including Bradford, went in their repaired shallop with eight
mariners, in search of that location, skirting the inner shores.

They camped the first night on the south of the Bay, building a
barricade of logs and boughs, as a shelter also against the wind, open
on one side with a fire in the centre. Their defense was useful, for
unawares they had come close to a settlement of Nauset Indians, a tribe
which had suffered cruelty at the hands of infamous Capt. Hunt who
kidnapped some of them and sold them abroad as slaves. Intent on
revenge, they approached within hearing of the English sentry, about
midnight; but on his raising the alarm, they made no attack then, and
the voyagers returned to their needed sleep, not being sure whether the
noise was caused by man or beast.

On awakening Friday morning, December 18, they united in prayer for
heavenly leading and protection, and encouraged one another. While
breakfast was preparing, some of them went down to put their muskets in
the shallop, but on the remonstrance of a few who retained their arms,
the rest were laid on the bank above the boat. They had no sooner
returned to their camp than they were startled by the ringing war-whoop,
and one of their own number came running from the woods, calling to
them, "Men, men! Indians, Indians!" A shower of arrows sought the
barricade, transfixing some of the hanging coats. Fortunately the
prudent four who had kept their weapons made good use of them, and some
who had armor donned it and with their swords accompanied their comrades
in a rush to the bank for the muskets, the Indians racing to intercept
them but in vain. The weapons carelessly left were now discharged with a
quieting effect, the savages soon retreating, without losses on either
side. To increase their fear, the colonists pursued them a little way,
shouting and firing. Then, thanking God for their deliverance, they
embarked and went up the west shore northward.

It was an uninviting coast. But Robert Coppin encouraged them in the
hope of reaching before dark that harbor he had visited, though these
were the shortest days of the year and thick weather was setting in
fast, followed by snow and rain in the afternoon, a south-east storm
rising. Their rudder broke under the strain, and two men were required
to steer with oars the heavy shallop, which someone has considered as
about thirty feet in length. It was shelterless, without deck or house.

Finally their pilot gave the cheering news that he could discern the
harbor. As the daylight was lessening and the tempest increasing, they
risked too much sail with the intention of clearing the rocks at the
entrance while they could see. Suddenly the overburdened mast snapped in
three pieces and the sail went overboard, nearly capsizing the little
vessel. Righting her quickly, and riding in by the oars with the tide
aiding, their guide, however, failed to recognize the place in the
deepening twilight. Trying to run ashore in the cove of Saquish, the
breakers were so huge and thunderous there, that a seaman, wisely
foreseeing disaster, protested and they turned away. But soon was heard
a gentler wash against some protected beach, to which the oarsmen
pulled. Grounding the keel, some of them gladly leaped out, feeling with
inexpressible relief the solid strand beneath their feet. The others,
remembering the encounter of early morning, remained in the shallop till
after midnight, when a bitter clearing wind drove them ashore to the
fire which their fellows had managed to kindle. There they all awaited
the dawn.

With the welcome day the north-west wind went down, and the sun added
its warmth to the fire. They were pleased to find themselves upon an
island, and they used that Saturday to dry out their soaked belongings
and prepare their muskets, while taking a good look at the harbor. On a
rock upon this Clarke's Island, are the words inscribed from their
record, "On the Sabboth day wee rested." And with grateful joy they held
their customary service, in the shelter of the boulder.

Monday they sounded the harbor, as Bradford relates, and found it fit
for shipping. Then they landed, bringing the boat by a large rock,
whence they could more conveniently step ashore. The place proved
uninhabited, but with desirable clearings, showing signs of rather
recent occupancy. Marching about, they discovered the various natural
advantages, including a number of brooks. They were satisfied that the
location would be suitable for settlement. So passed December 21, our
Forefathers' Day.

It was good news which this advance party brought back to the Mayflower,
and they all prepared to come to Plymouth, as they called it, because it
had already been so named by Captain John Smith a few years before; and
thus they also remembered the old Plymouth where they last beheld
England, and were kindly entertained.

Sad intelligence, however, awaited William Bradford. His wife Dorothy
May, doubtless oppressed with loneliness in his absence, perhaps
pensively and by herself looking for his return at the high stern's rail
near the ladies' cabins, in weariness and weakness might easily have
fallen asleep as in a rolling cradle, especially if seeking the relief
of the salt ozone after nausea. In such case losing her balance, she
fell overboard and was drowned, probably the stern's height making the
water's concussion sufficient to produce instantaneous unconsciousness.

On Christmas Day in our reckoning, the fifteenth in theirs, the
Mayflower set sail for Plymouth, but contrary winds beat her back to
her old anchorage. Next day, Saturday, the attempt was successful,
barely; for within half an hour after arrival an adverse gale sprang up
outside. But the sickle-shaped harbor held them safely. The long voyage
was ended at last, a few days before the second decade of the
seventeenth century closed.

It went out in a cold rain-storm, with the life of another Pilgrim, for
mortality had already commenced. Furious winds and driving rain, again
deep snow followed by bitter cold, with consequent increase of sickness,
hindered the colonists in their efforts to build log houses there in the
dead of winter.

New Year's Day, 1621, a tempestuous Friday, beheld a new-born babe, but
unbreathing; and the first Sabbath ashore witnessed the seventh death in
America, a toll of the dread Harvester which continued through all that
winter, until seven times seven and two more expired, or almost half
their whole company, while the Mayflower crew lost in the same
proportion of fifty per cent. The vessel was retained till April, not
only because adequate habitations could not be constructed soon enough
under such fearful circumstances, but because there were not enough
sailors in health to man the ship.

Only four of the eighteen wives were spared. Five of the children died,
yet fifteen survived. Bradford records concerning the survivors of this
perilous enterprise, in uncertain exile compelled by persecution, "of
these in the time of most distress, there was but six or seven sound
persons who, to their great commendations be it spoken, spared no pains,
night or day, but with abundance of toil and hazard of their own health,
fetched them wood, made their fires, dressed their meat, made their
beds, washed their loathsome clothes, clothed and unclothed them; in a
word did all the homely and necessary offices for them; and all this
willingly and cheerfully, without any grudging in the least, showing
herein their true love unto their friends and brethren."

This first month of the year and of the Colony brought Bradford himself
a severe illness, in which an accident also threatened his life. A month
from the original Forefathers' Day "the common house" was completed,
where the workers slept and supplies from the ship were deposited. In
this building, small like the seven dwellings that followed, lay in
weakness Masters Carver and Bradford, one the Pilgrims' first Governor,
even from sea-faring days, the other soon to be his successor. Early one
Sunday morning the thatch roof caught fire and burned, though the house
underneath was saved. The occupants escaped, though not without grave
danger from explosion because of powder stored there.

The plan of the little village was laid out Januuary seventh. Its main
thoroughfare was simply called the Street, then, successively, First,
Great, and Broad Street; but as late as 1823 it took the name of
Leyden. On either side of it, less than a score of plots were set off
for the various families. The distribution was by lot, though larger
households received larger areas, according to the number of their
members. The whole tract was enclosed next year within a stout palisade,
about a mile in circuit, after signs of native hostility had made them
more watchful than ever. On the hill at the head of the street a wooden
fort was built, with which Bradford was said to be much pleased, as it
was comparatively large and imposing. On its flat roof ordnance was
installed, commanding the whole port. The interior was used for Sabbath
congregations, and was the most commodious place for any public

Almost from the first they had heard now and then a strange clamor on
the outskirts, and occasionally they had caught sight of one or more
savages lurking about. Several attempts to hold a general meeting had
been prevented by the appearance of red men, including an agreeable
visit from Samoset, a chief from the north who had learned sufficiently
from English fishermen to enable him to converse with the Pilgrims and
give them much valuable information. And within a week from that, the
head of all the Old Colony tribes, Massasoit, came with about sixty men,
forty of whom tarried outside while he and the others approached unarmed
into the midst of ready firearms and within the secure walls of a house.
Here was offered and received the mutual covenant of a friendship that
proved lasting. Both contracting parties remained ever faithful to this
solemn treaty.

After the departure of Massasoit, the colonists held their first full
convention, choosing officers and making a few statutes such as were
then needed. John Carver, their excellent deacon and the senior of them
all, was re-elected Governor, to continue for one year, the regular time
limit adopted.

But the Mayflower had not long sailed away, in the middle of April,
before Carver succumbed to an early heat, as he toiled with his younger
comrades in their planting; and the messenger of death released him from
those initial responsibilities, which had weighed heavily upon him. His
obsequies were performed with appropriate dignity, the seaside
resounding with volleys discharged in his honor above the grave.

Then the reduced Colony assembled again, and voted to place William
Bradford in the office vacated by their worthy first leader.



    _They are dead, God rest their souls, but their lives are still
    the strength of ours.... Let us stand aside in silent veneration
    of their heroic characters and achievements, and thank God who
    strengthened them for labors we cannot even comprehend._

        JANE G. AUSTIN, in "Standish of Standish."

    _All great & honorable actions are accompanied with great
    difficulties, and must be enterprised and overcome with
    answerable courages._


The new executive was still handicapped by the weakness of convalescence
after his critical illness, though the election had been postponed till
he was better; and he was aided by Isaac Allerton, a colonist of means
and ability who was chosen as Governor's Assistant. At the chief
magistrate's request, five assistants were given him in 1624, and the
number was increased to seven in 1633 when his successor Edward Winslow
was elected, "Mr. Bradford having been governor about ten years, and
now by importunity got off," as Governor Winthrop of the Massachusetts
Bay Colony wrote in his manuscript history of New England. The
importunity was Bradford's, not the little Colony's; for he urged
rotation of office, saying of the appointment, "If it is any honor or
benefit, it is fit others should be made partakers of it; if it is a
burden (as doubtless it is), it is but equal others should help to bear
it, and this is the end of Annual Elections."

Consequently Thomas Prince, a later settler, was voted to this position
in 1634 and '38, and Mr. Winslow again in '36 and '44, three times in
all. After that, for thirteen consecutive springs, Mr. Bradford was
placed in the gubernatorial chair, and but for his decease then, he
would probably have continued long therein. As it was, he held the
office thirty full years. And in every instance when his request for a
successor was heard, the ballot made him chief of assistants, or Deputy
Governor. What clearer evidence could be furnished us, as to the
sentiment of the people, both in their small original company and as
numbers increased?

His administration exhibited a happy blending of his constitutional
mildness and moderation, combined with a firmness that could not be
shaken, a patience that would not wear out, and an optimistic hope that
was based upon his Christian faith. Offenders against the law and the
community's peace felt his determination, but no one was more ready to
pardon the humbled and restore to them the full privileges of
citizenship. In matters of diplomacy and difficult correspondence,
including delicate foreign relations, he was tactful yet insistent upon
principle, defending with a keen sense of justice the honor of the
colonial state. Conventional courtesies did not deceive him, where
opposition lay concealed; yet he modestly disowned sincere and merited
praise when he considered it unwarranted. Scrupulous not to exceed his
prerogatives, he was ready to surrender what some in his place would
have thought their proper rights. In a word, he did not hold his office
anxiously. To him it was not a prize, a dear object for ambition to gain
and shrewd policy to perpetuate, even when the Plymouth Colony grew in
size and dignity. He mentions his first election only, in particular,
adding "once for all," that he was returned "sundry years together."

There was indeed need for strength and calmness; and the unfailing
fortitude, coupled with a cool, clear foresight, gave assurance to the
people alike during sudden but transient alarms and prolonged periods of
impending disaster. Thus their confidence was not disappointed, but was
strengthened with every fresh proof. Others had the same high spirit,
for it was a noble democracy; but in all such situations courageous
leadership cannot fail to have a steadying effect upon the body politic.
America did not outgrow this need, and this benefit, in the later days
of Washington and Lincoln. It is not at all strange that in the
formative, we may say experimental years of New England, an
unpretentious but wise and kind administration should have been
gratefully appreciated and sustained, by the popular suffrage annually

As an instance of Bradford's repeated defense of the Colony in its
course of action, this letter may suffice, which was addressed to Weston
in answer to the latter's complaint that the Mayflower carried a light
return cargo of pelts:

"S^r: Your large letter writen to M^r. Carver, and dated y^e 6. of July,
1621, I have received y^e 10. of Novemb^r, wherin (after y^e apologie
made for your selfe) you lay many heavie imputations upon him and us
all. Touching him, he is departed this life, and now is at rest in y^e
Lord from all those troubls and incoumbrances with which we are yet to
strive. He needs not my appologie; for his care and pains was so great
for y^e commone good, both ours and yours, as that therwith (it is
thought) he oppressed him selfe and shortened his days; of whose loss we
cannot sufficiently camplaine. At great charges in this adventure, I
confess you have beene, and many losses may sustaine; but y^e loss of
his and many other honest and industrious mens lives, cannot be vallewed
at any prise. Of y^e one, ther may be hope of recovery, but y^e other no
recompence can make good. But I will not insiste in generalls, but come
more perticulerly to y^e things them selves. You greatly blame us for
keping y^e ship so long in y^e countrie, and then to send her away
emptie. She lay 5. weks at Cap-Codd whilst with many a weary step (after
a long journey) and the indurance of many a hard brunte, we sought out
in the foule winter a place of habitation. Then we went in so tedious a
time to make provission to sheelter us and our goods, about w^{ch}
labour, many of our armes & leggs can tell us to this day we were not
necligent. But it pleased God to vissite us then, with death dayly, and
with so generall a disease, that the living were scarce able to burie
the dead; and y^e well not in any measure sufficiente to tend y^e sick.
And now to be so greatly blamed, for not fraighting y^e ship, doth
indeed goe near us, and much discourage us. But you say you know we will
pretend weaknes; and doe you think we had not cause? Yes, you tell us
you beleeve it, but it was more weaknes of judgmente, then of hands. Our
weaknes herin is great we confess, therfore we will bear this check
patiently amongst y^e rest, till God send us wiser men. But they which
tould you we spent so much time in discoursing & consulting, &c., their
harts can tell their toungs, they lye. They cared not, so they might
salve their owne sores, how they wounded others."

Two problems quickly confronted the new chief magistrate, and they were
surely serious enough: the problem of a bare subsistence, and of
defense against hostile invasion by the natives.

New Plymouth was not new as a plantation. This was the site of the
Indian village of Patuxet, whose occupants had worked its somewhat
restricted area of tillage, until about four years previously, when they
and other settlements of the aborigines were desolated by plague. A
survivor of these Patuxets, Tisquantum or Squanto, showed himself to the
Englishmen, and became their valued friend and helper. Doubtless glad to
return to his old home, he instructed the colonists in the cultivation
of the maize, or Indian corn, an indigenous American product which has
become appreciated over the world wherever it thrives. It was the
Pilgrims' dependence, and a staple article of trade. The wheat and peas
they brought with them failed, and without the corn, threatening
starvation must soon have closed their career. As it was, during the
first two years they had a veritable battle for existence. Though
distemper did not return to them after the horrors of the first winter,
they became emaciated under reduced rations; but regulations in severity
here were merciful, saving the Colony from annihilation, from one
planting time to another.

Squanto lightened this task of the authorities by his lessons in hunting
venison, snaring rabbits, catching wild fowl, and fishing, especially
during the yearly herring run in the town brook up to the lovely pond
called Billington Sea because its discoverer, young Francis Billington
mistook it for a salt inlet.

Also the faithful shallop was in constant use by successive parties, who
went out into the bay and came not back without a haul of lobsters, cod,
or other fish, though at first they were poorly provided with deep-sea
tackle and proper nets. Clams afforded a further help, the people
treading and digging the flats at low tide, while eels and crabs
supplemented this. They were grateful for these means of nourishment
from sea and shore, preventing their extinction; yet such could not
suffice for permanent living.

Bradford did all in his power to relieve the shortage of food supply.
Little could be procured from abroad, and in the case of a visiting
ship, the captain's price was cruelly prohibitive. A generous captain of
different character, in a fishing fleet to the north, persuaded his
fellows to spare from their own allowance enough to load the Pilgrim
boat. But the most of the required amount of corn was obtained by
bartering various utensils and beads with the Indians, though their
natural improvidence usually left them without much of a surplus in
crops. In trading expeditions by land and water, Standish and Bradford
were both active. And each of them at times was alone, of white men,
among the natives. Bradford once left a boat and walked fifty miles
back to Plymouth from the south, for the friendly neighboring tribes
were not long in discovering his inherent gentleness and fairness.

But firm discipline was necessary in times of dire need. A few
unreliable persons had become mixed in the original company, and
colonists new or old were punished by flogging, for the theft of corn,
some of which was occasionally abstracted even before it was ripe.
Bradford's appreciative quotation of Seneca's fine affirmation, that a
man is free who has control of his stomach, in this near famine would
seem to apply where self-denial meant malnutrition, to prevent

Weakness and numerical smallness hindered the cultivation of the soil,
and the climax was a severe drouth from the last of May, 1623, till
about the middle of July, when the stalks nearly perished in the
excessive heat. A day of prayer was appointed, in which the Pilgrims
engaged earnestly for eight or nine hours, until a general cloudiness
overspread the sky. This was followed that night by a gentle shower,
which was renewed again and again, with intervals of sunshine,
throughout a fortnight. The planting was saved, to the astonishment of
the Indians and the deep gratitude of the Christian community. Famine
fled for ever. And as the spared crop matured, a Day of Thanksgiving was
ordered by the Governor and concurring Council, a season which has been
observed annually ever since, and finally throughout the nation.

Bradford did not show favor to the industrial policy of holding all
things in common, which was at first attempted and which, because of its
early apostolic connection, was supposed to be under divine sanction. If
he tolerated the idea at first, he gives no sign of approval; and when
it was abandoned he observed: "The experience that was had in this
comone course and condition, tried sundrie years, and that amongst godly
and sober men, may well evince the vanitie of that conceite of Plato &
other ancients, applauded by some of later times; that y^e taking away
of propertie, and bringing in comunitie into a comone wealth, would make
them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser then God."

This farsighted judgment applied equally to the communistic concept of
that time and the present idea of a short working day, a living wage
whether earned or not, and an absolute democratic control over all
individual rights, which is the perversion of civil liberty, and more
potent than despotism because imposed by a multitude.

Under private ownership of land, which superseded the common stock plan,
there was better incentive to toil, and the Governor with pleasure
observed that even the women and children went willingly afield.
Assignments came to be made of one acre to a family, near the palisaded
hamlet for convenience and better security. But on petition of the
planters, Bradford directed that the allotments should be for continuous
use, rather than for one year as heretofore. This encouraged those who
had achieved good success on their area, to go forward still in their
agricultural accomplishments. They raised the more, as soon as numbers
and strength allowed, because they found a corn market among the
half-hundred fishing vessels which annually visited the northern coasts.

The story is familiar, how the distressed new-comers at first smoothed
the graves of their plague-smitten members, to hide the number of deaths
from the savages, whose derisive shouts from the forests mingled with
their lamentations. But this local Indian menace was comparatively
slight. All the Cape Indians, including those whom the Pilgrim explorers
had unintentionally aroused, became before long their permanent good
neighbors. This desirable outcome was facilitated by a singular
circumstance, the roaming of a boy who lost his way. John Billington,
Jr., wandered in the woods until the Cummaquid Indians found him twenty
miles down the coast. They carried him farther, to the Nausets, the very
tribe of the first encounter. Bradford sent notice of the missing lad to
Massasoit, who inquired for him among his subjects. On ascertaining his
whereabouts, ten colonists and two interpreters were dispatched in the
shallop to Nauset, who received the boy bead-laden and well, and held a
friendly parley with Chief Aspinet and his men. These natives forwarded
peace delegates to Plymouth, a course not actually required but
acceptable after their conflict of 1620.

The whole region of Plymouth was offered free and empty to the white
men, through the ravages of previous pestilence. This providential
visitation extended as far west as the confines of Narragansett Bay in
present Rhode Island, depleting the population where it did not wholly
destroy. And further, these Pokanokets, the Sunrise tribes in a
confederacy under Massasoit, were the more willing to heed their lord's
pacific injunctions concerning the English, because they themselves in
their weakened condition were threatened with invasion and conquest by
the powerful Narragansetts. Self-preservation, as well as commercial
advantage, prompted the never broken treaty made that spring. It was an
idea mutually welcome, a most happy plan for both afflicted parties.
Only one chief, Corbitant in the Taunton valley, was displeased and
jealous, and threatened trouble; but a prompt expedition to the interior
frightened him away back home. He sued for favor through Massasoit, and
affixed his mark below those of eight other chiefs, in a covenant of
loyalty to King James across "the big water."

The Rhode Island Indians were irritated by this unprecedented alliance
of natives with foreigners, and knowing the English losses they sent the
famous rattlesnake skin with its challenging arrows, to Plymouth. But
its speedy return filled with powder and balls and accompanied by a
friendly but warning message, punctured their pride and put for a while
a complete quietus on their warlike aspirations.

The most serious peril arose in 1623, from the populous Massachusetts
tribes along the northern bay which, with the later state, adopted their
name. These were never over-friendly, and the later Salem and Boston
colonists found their own numerical strength was a needed preventive of
further native hostilities after the first had been suppressed. The
wrath of the red northerners was fanned into fury by the wicked and
abusive conduct of sixty Wessagusset settlers, a worthless and
improvident lot which Thomas Weston imposed upon Plymouth in the time of
scarcity, until they went up the coast by themselves. Even then
Standish, and later Bradford, took command of their pinnace the Swan in
attempts to procure corn for distribution in both colonies; and the
efficient Squanto died in one of these voyages, despite tender nursing
by the Governor.

But the Wessagusset men repaid the terribly taxed hospitality and
courtesy of the Pilgrims by attempted thefts of corn and insolent
demeanor while at Plymouth; then they provoked their heathen neighbors,
with whom they competed in bad behavior; and finally their remnant
accepted the guidance of Myles Standish to the fishing fleet off the
Maine coast, whence they returned to England for the good of America.

It was in situations like these that the coolness of the Governor
greatly helped to prevent the note of dismay, for the exasperated
Massachusetts, in hope of exterminating every foreigner, sent far and
near for concerted action of all tribes, and many joined in the
conspiracy. In view of an uprising so wide-spread, it was natural that
some in the little Colony should feel apprehensive, for the peril of
extinction was real. Approximately between twenty-five and fifty
thousand Indians occupied New England. Supported by limited artillery
and musketry, the wooden palisade was hardly adequate against the
firebrands, hatchets and arrows of bloodthirsty swarming thousands; yet
it never came to the test. This is less surprising when we recall the
fact that, in addition to showing an almost complete lack of
organization, all the Atlantic coast natives were numerically weaker and
socially inferior to the inland tribes. White immigrants to the Old
Colony found them especially weak there; and in Patuxet, or Plymouth,
they were extinct, except for friendly Squanto.

At this time the people revealed their trust in Bradford's judgment by
leaving him to decide what measures should be taken in a crisis so
acute, of which he informed them on the annual court day. Captain
Standish was sent to Wessagusset, with only eight men, as more would
excite suspicion; and they equipped the shallop for trading. But one day
when two ringleaders and a couple of followers were in a hut with the
whites, Standish gave the word, the door was shut and a struggle ensued,
three red men being soon cut down, fighting to the last, while a fourth
was taken alive and afterward hung. Three more warriors in the
neighborhood were killed. This summary execution of only seven persons
quickly prepared the way for finishing the disagreeable but necessary
business without that further and abundant bloodshed, which would
inevitably have ensued but for this stern action. A force of Indians who
hastened to the scene were turned to flight without loss after a few
shots, and the heart of opposition failed. The sudden collapse of
warfare so carefully planned, is explained not only by the loose
organization of those rude folk among themselves, but by the fact, as
often in ancient history, that dependence upon leaders was extremely
strong, and the fall of a hero caused consternation and despair. Also
the terror of Standish, with his decisiveness and daring, was universal
among all disaffected natives, who regarded him as invulnerable, for he
had repeatedly escaped the plots of intending assassins; and he
surprised his foes by his quick penetration of their deadly designs
though covered by amicable professions.

This perception of sinister purposes was also well developed in
Bradford, as the following instance will show, though out of
chronological order; and it was well for the Colony that both men
possessed such a faculty, the impetuous Captain and amiable Governor,
who in their respective dispositions may fairly be compared with
Christ's leading disciples, Peter and John. When the Massachusetts Bay
Colony was at its full inception in 1630, there appeared the greatest
threat of native opposition up to that time, considering its extent. It
aimed at the annihilation of all New England settlements, north and
south along the coast where they had obtained, or were securing, a firm
footing. The older community was to be attended to first.

The scheme was to request another grand sporting festival at Plymouth,
natives and whites together, such as had been allowed to Massasoit and
his men in 1621, the year of the treaty. Though this pleasant precedent
was shrewdly cited with all openness and apparent amity, Bradford
refused the petition. Then the red men, realizing that they were
understood, declared wrathfully and with unwonted boldness, "If we may
not come with leave, we will come without."

They rallied near Charlestown, whose people were also warned by their
constant native friend, Sagamore John. Therefore the English, including
women and children, hastily erected earthworks and built a small fort on
top of the town hill. But the slightly older settlement of Salem made
use of what cannon it possessed, and the booming reverberations struck
such panic in the dusky breasts, that they immediately abandoned their
campaign, although, as later in New England's interior, it might, if
once started, have proved no farce even against explosive weapons. Thus
ended the troubles with aborigines of martial mind in William Bradford's

Within a year, lacking one day, after the Mayflower had cast anchor in
Provincetown harbor, the Fortune had brought an accession of thirty-five
souls, mostly men, who replaced the male losses of the first winter.
They were somewhat heedless youth, with more of adventurous ardor than
judgment, yet such as could be controlled, and useful in the shortage of
masculine muscle and total absence of horses and oxen. They stood ready
for work or warfare, in those uncertain years before colonial
establishment. Then, just after the drouth of 1623, the Anne and the
Little James arrived in August with sixty persons, some of whom,
however, proved so undesirable that the Colony, financially burdened
though it was, willingly sent them back at its own charge. The most of
them, both Separatists and others, were very worthy and welcome; and
they included women and children, who had been left behind until they
could expect an assured settlement to occupy. Elder Brewster received
his two daughters, Doctor Samuel Fuller and Francis Cooke rejoiced to
greet their wives, and there were brides to be.

Besides these sixty, certain prospective planters were accepted who did
not wish to join Plymouth's colonial organization bound in partnership
with the company in England. Specifications regarding them were drawn
up, and mutually agreed upon. The opening article was thus generous in
its spirit:

"First, that y^e Gov^r, in y^e name and with y^e consente of y^e
company, doth in all love and frendship receive and imbrace them; and is
to allote them competente places for habitations within y^e towne. And
promiseth to shew them all such other curtesies as shall be reasonable
for them to desire, or us to performe."

A letter came with these ships, from the general company in England,
subscribed by thirteen names representing those who in that body were
friendly toward the Pilgrims and were sending them this accession of
people. The missive concluded in this tenor of sympathy and
encouragement, which doubtless did the recipients much good:

"Let it not be greeveous unto you y^t you have been instruments to
breake y^e ise for others who come after with less difficulty, the
honour shall be yours to y^e worlds end....

"We bear you always in our brests, and our harty affection is towards
you all, as are y^e harts of hundreds more which never saw your faces,
who doubtles pray for your saftie as their owne, as we our selves both
doe & ever shall, that y^e same God which hath so marvelously preserved
from seas, foes, and famine, will still preserve you from all future
dangers, and make you honourable amongst men, and glorious in blise at
y^e last day. And so y^e Lord be with you all & send us joyfull news
from you, and inable us with one shoulder so to accomplish & perfecte
this worke, as much glorie may come to Him y^t confoundeth y^e mighty by
the weak, and maketh small thinges great. To whose greatnes, be all
glorie for ever & ever."

Edward Winslow was appointed to return with the Anne, for the procuring
of needed supplies and especially to report the truth about the Colony,
whose enemies had maligned it. This gifted and honorable man rendered a
valuable service to Plymouth at that day, and to posterity ever since,
by his detailed journal of events to that time, entitled Good Newes from
New-England. He and Bradford, unnamed, had previously prepared a Journal
of the Plantation through June of the first full year, which was printed
in 1622. That and the longer account were embodied in "Purchas his
Pilgrims" in 1625.

In the feminine contingent of these latest arrivals, there appeared one
who was to share her life for thirty-three years with the Governor of
the Old Colony. She was previously well acquainted with him, and born
in the same year. Alice Carpenter was the widow of Edward Southworth a
descendant of Sir Gilbert Southworth, knight of Lancaster. When a maiden
of seventeen, she had cast in her lot with the Puritans and lived a
while as an exile in Holland, with her father. She became a woman of
devout mind and great force of character.

Alice must often have seen William Bradford in the Separatist community
at Leyden. And in her widowhood, two years after the tragic decease of
Dorothy May Bradford, she received with favor his suit for marriage,
which was happily consummated at Plymouth on August fourteen, Old Style.

She brought over considerable property with her. Dorothy Bradford's son
John, a lad under seven then, did not come till a few years later. He
himself though married died childless, after threescore years of life;
and he was given the position of Deputy to the General Court, before his
father passed away. He received a house and land from a paternal will.

Goodwife Southworth's own sons Thomas and Constant Southworth rejoined
her within seven years, meeting their half-brothers, the Plymouth family
having then been blessed with three little ones, William, Mercy and
Joseph. The Bradford household, of parents and children, therefore
comprised eight persons, residing in the Governor's assigned homestead
at the south-west corner of the square in the intersection of the two
main streets.

Mrs. Bradford engaged earnestly and long in labors for the young people
at Plymouth.

Though she survived her life-partner by nearly thirteen years, he had
the joy of knowing some of the fifteen children of his son and namesake
William, the Deputy Governor and Major, and several of his other son
Joseph's seven children. His only daughter, Mercy, married and was
living in 1650. The grandmother's name was repeated in Alice, daughter
of William Junior.

Following a long debility, on April 5, 1670, shortly before the dark
days of King Philip's war, the Governor's consort closed, at her home of
peace, her course of almost fourscore years; and a relative, Nathaniel
Morton, Secretary of Plymouth Colony, writing verses which are copied on
the first original leaf of Bradford's History, "Upon the life and death
of that godly matron Mistris Alice Bradford," said of her that after the
obsequies of her husband,

    "E'r since that time in widdowhood shee hath
    Lived a life in holynes and faith
    In reading of God's word and contemplation."



    _In thanking God for the mercies extended to us in the past, we
    beseech Him that He may not withhold them in the future, and
    that our hearts may be roused to war steadfastly for good and
    against all the forces of evil, public and private. We pray for
    strength and light, so that in the coming days we may with
    cleanliness, fearlessness and wisdom do our allotted work on the

        _in National Thanksgiving Proclamation_.

    _It is much better to keepe a good conscience and have y^e
    Lord's blessing, whether in life or death._


As Plymouth's third summer displayed its saved harvest which, with a
fresh food supply from the Anne, promised enough by prudent management
for the increased Colony, a sense of security and content was justified.
The new-comers, who had wept to see the founders' leanness and scanty
clothing, were glad to help as they could, and consoled their much tried
spirits in the reunited and new families. The lingering experimental
stage had passed. Establishment was in sight. With only a few
exceptions, every settler had done his part and would continue to do so,
toiling for the general good as for his private welfare. The Governor
performed his share of responsibility, as he had willingly taken his
equal portion in the emergency restrictions. He would not himself avoid
in any degree what he had been obliged to impose upon others. And in
appreciation of his true democratic feeling they cordially co-operated
with him, and were pleased to support him still as their civil head. But
an external authority was to try the genuine quality of his humility;
and well it stood this test.

The Council for New England, seated in old England, could not long
direct affairs at that distance, as only a body subject to the British
government and usually having no electoral voice abroad; but before its
early expiration it assumed at one time to do more than the Crown itself
cared to undertake for Plymouth, which was never of marked political
importance to the realm. This ephemeral Council superseded the
colonists' head by the appointment of a Governor General of New England,
Captain Robert Gorges, son of Sir Ferdinando the famous promoter of
provincial territory. On his advisory board was Admiral Francis West,
who had unsuccessfully served a monopoly seeking exclusive control of
the New England fishing grounds, and one William Bradford, resident in
New Plymouth and generously accorded this favor "for the time being," a
copy of his superior's commission being delivered to him. The Pilgrim
leader not only accepted the situation, as his duty was, but did so with
good grace, providing for the entertainment of Gorges and his
considerable company during a fortnight after their arrival in
September, an act of hospitality which was acknowledged with thanks.

With the new dignitary were families intended to replace, at
Wessagusset, now Weymouth, those who had been there long enough to
provoke the natives into the insurrection against all whites.

Before they sailed up the coast, Thomas Weston also came into port, just
at the wrong juncture for him. All his fraudulent villainy was charged
against him by Robert Gorges, including the wrongs done to the latter's
distinguished father. Bradford here displayed his forgiving spirit by
interceding in behalf of Weston, though he himself and all Plymouth had
suffered because of his actions. Clemency being obtained, Weston thought
himself free and, instead of showing gratitude, indulged in the spiteful
expressions so congenial to his nature. Thereupon Gorges in righteous
wrath vowed he would either curb or banish him; and he would have done
so had not Bradford, secretly entreated by the wretch, again procured
his release with much difficulty. This and other favors granted to him,
when in dire straits or personal peril, were ignored by Weston, who
from a safe distance still proved his inherent depravity by reviling the

A single American winter sufficed for Gorges and the bulk of the
Wessagusset colony. Relinquishing his magisterial powers, necessity
compelled him to return home before spring, accompanied by some of his
people. Others were carried to Virginia, only a few remaining in
Weymouth. Thus quickly terminated the assumption of external, delegated
authority at Plymouth as a separate Colony, the British government being
usually content to grant, though unofficially and by sufferance, its
autonomy, even to the choice of its chief executive, which was not the
case at Massachusetts Bay.

In an opportune time when opposition among the English patrons was
developing against the New England Separatists, Winslow did his part
well in defending, abroad, the Colony from its unfriendly critics, who
had misrepresented it from the time of the Mayflower's return with her
rough, profane crew, to the reprobate malcontents who had to be
deported. And now, when the Charity went back in which Winslow had
returned, having left her cargo of necessities such as much needed
clothing and cattle for breeding, she conveyed home specific answers by
the Governor, to a dozen baseless criticisms. Two are cited, in the
loose orthography of the day. Variable spelling was no sure sign of
illiteracy then, as with Bradford and contemporary writers of good
thought and dignified style.

Thus he meets the leading calumny, as to "diversitie about Religion:"

"We know no such matter, for here was never any controversie or
opposition, either publicke or private, (to our knowledg,) since we

The last objection designed to injure Plymouth was this: "The people are
much anoyed with muskeetoes.

"Ans: They are too delicate and unfitte to begin new-plantations and
collonies, that cannot enduer the biting of a muskeeto; we would wish
such to keepe at home till at least they be muskeeto proofe. Yet this
place is as free as any, and experience teacheth that y^e more y^e land
is tild, and y^e woods cut downe, the fewer ther will be, and in the end
scarce any at all."

Bradford prepared this clear and direct rejoinder to the unjust charges,
at the urgent request of the planters' foreign agent. And the unexpected
defense "did so confound y^e objecters, as some confessed their falte,
and others deneyed what they had said, and eate their words, & some
others of them have since come over againe and heere lived to convince
them selves sufficiently, both in their owne & other mens judgments."

The Governor further justified Plymouth's course by a series of replies,
which became useful locally and for posterity, but were not sent
abroad, as the letters of complaint were intercepted and seized. He had
now to cope with internal revolt, headed by John Lyford and John Oldham.
Lyford was an exceedingly disreputable and discredited clergyman of the
Established Church who, like Morell of Wessagusset previously, had been
sent in hope of superseding Elder Brewster and breaking up the much
disliked Separatist order in New England. Morell had perceived the
strength of the Pilgrim fellowship, and was wise enough to make no vain
attempt to subvert its order, only daring to mention, on leaving the
country, the ecclesiastical authority with which he had been invested.
His successor, in this dark scheme of foreign persecution, sought with
serpentine cleverness to ingratiate himself; but his effusive servility
nauseated those sterling souls. As Bradford graphically recorded, "when
this man first came a shore, he saluted them with that reverence &
humilitie as is seldome to be seen, and indeed made them ashamed, he so
bowed and cringed unto them, and would have kissed their hands if they
would have suffered him; yea, he wept & shed many tears, blessing God
that had brought him to see their faces; and admiring y^e things they
had done in their wants, &c. as if he had been made all of love, and y^e
humblest person in y^e world."

Nevertheless, not knowing his reprobate nature, they gave the clerical
the best entertainment they could, a larger allowance from the stored
food than any other had, and, "as the Gov^r had used in all waightie
affairs to consulte with their Elder, Mr. Brewster, (togeither with his
assistants,) so now he caled Mr. Liford also to counsell with them in
their waightiest bussineses." Soon he desired admission to the church,
and was received, confessing that his conscience had been troubled by
much wrong doing, and professing gratitude for "this opportunity of
freedom and liberty to enjoy the ordinances of God in purity among his

Oldham also, who had been a malcontent and evil informant to parties
abroad, now, to quote again the magisterial historian, "tooke occasion
to open his minds to some of y^e cheefe amongst them heere, and
confessed he had done them wrong both by word & deed, & writing into
England; but he now saw the eminente hand of God to be with them, and
his blesing upon them, which made his hart smite him, neither should
those in England ever use him as an instrumente any longer against them
in any thing; he also desired former things might be forgotten, and that
they would looke upon him as one that desired to close with them in all
things, with such like expressions. Now whether this was in hipocrisie,
or out of some sudden pang of conviction (which I rather thinke), God
only knows. Upon it they show all readynes to imbrace his love, and
carry towards him in all frendlyness, and called him to counsell with
them in all cheefe affairs, as y^e other, without any distrust at all."

Thus generous and patient was the Governor and his Pilgrim comrades.
They were ready to let a man make amends for his misdeeds. But very soon
Bradford had opportunity to show that he had discretion as well as

Lyford saw no prospect of his becoming the "spiritual" head at Plymouth,
although by his encouragement some of the Merchant Adventurers in
England succeeded in still keeping the Pilgrims' true pastor from coming
to his own, as he desired to do, writing to them concerning his
unwilling absence. They even pleaded lack of funds to transport him and
Mrs. Robinson, though they could send Lyford with his numerous family.
This man and Oldham secretly lapsed back into their congenial ways, and
they busied themselves in efforts to stir up discontent and sedition,
among those who had been generously allowed residence at Plymouth
without assuming the colonial foreign obligations. There were stealthy
gatherings and whisperings, which the government discovered. There was
industrious writing of letters intended for English consumption.

As the mail carrier sailed, the Governor and several others accompanied
her in the shallop until well out, when he called for all the letters of
Lyford and Oldham. The ship master, knowing the evil conduct of those
men on both sides of the sea, cheerfully co-operated, finding over a
score of vicious epistles, many of them bulky, and full of slanders
sufficient to ruin the reputation of the Colony if believed.

At night the Governor returned and nothing was said, the uneasy
malcontents concluding Bradford had gone with messages of his own.
Instead of this, he waited to see what their intentions were, and who
were their adherents, particularly as one of the intercepted letters
promised a change in church and state, and that they would bring this
about soon after the ship's sailing. Therefore, mistaking the Governor's
caution for timidity, without notifying him or the Elder they presumed
to call a meeting of the conspirators, on a certain Sunday.

This was what Bradford had been waiting for, to know the disloyal
constituency. Swiftly he acted now, summoning the whole company to
court. They were urged to state, frankly and fully, all their
grievances, in the open and proper manner; but they had nothing to say,
and stoutly denied the charges laid against them. Their letters being
produced, Lyford was struck dumb; but Oldham began to rage, affecting
righteous wrath over the interference with his mail. He called upon his
supposed sympathizers to have courage and stand forth, but none of them
spoke or moved. The Governor explained to the people the necessity of
suppressing mutinous missives; and the assembly was shocked at the
produced evidence, of seditious plotting in return for uniform
kindness. The weak and variable Lyford, when some of his voluminous
writing was read, suddenly gave way to copious tears, cursing himself
and confessing everything, declaring that his actions were the result of
his pride, vainglory and self-love, though he involved Billington and
others who at once grew emphatic in denial.

By way of illustration, and to show the breadth of the colonial policy,
the first two charges, and their refutations, are here given.

"1. First, he saith, the church would have none to live hear but them
selves. 2'y. Neither are any willing so to doe if they had company to
live elsewher.

"Ans: Their answer was, that this was false, in both y^e parts of it;
for they were willing & desirous y^t any honest men may live with them,
that will cary them selves peacably, and seek y^e comone good, or at
least doe them no hurte. And again, ther are many that will not live els
wher so long as they may live with them.

"2. That if ther come over any honest men that are not of y^e
seperation, they will quickly distast them, &c.

"A. Ther answer was as before, that it was a false callumniation, for
they had many amongst them that they liked well of, and were glad of
their company; and should be of any such like that should come amongst

Sentence of banishment was imposed upon the miserable men, but Lyford's
time was extended to six months more at Plymouth in the vain hope that
his punishment might be commuted on good behavior. Elder Brewster
especially entreated for him, though this strange pulpit aspirant had
hoped to supplant him. The clerical renegade's contrition began to cool
in a few weeks, and he penned in great secrecy a letter to his backers
abroad, which however was brought to the Governor, and all its charges
answered in writing. In consequence, there was a revulsion of feeling on
the part of certain formerly disaffected ones, who now so loathed these
traitorous deeds that their own loyalty was toned up. The Colony was rid
of such experts in duplicity, though Oldham rashly returned next spring,
and became so defiant and abusive that he was first put under guard,
then led away to a boat between files of musketeers who were ordered to
strike him with the butts of their guns. Yet afterward in a fearful
storm he confessed his wickedness and vowed that if spared he would do
right. Delivered from drowning, he kept his word, proved his genuine
good will, and behaved himself so well that eventually he had liberty to
visit Plymouth when he would. In all these things the toleration of the
chief magistrate and his associates, where toleration was possible,
appears marvellous, though they were firm in protecting their essential
rights and maintaining the colonial integrity.

But the English supporters of the unsuccessful revolution, vexed at the
ministerial traitor's expulsion, dissolved their company as then
composed, broke with the Colony and thenceforth withheld their help.
Also some of them, not content with this, manned a vessel on their own
account, and dispatched it ahead of any others to Cape Ann on the north
shore, where Plymouth had established a fishing station. This expedition
seized the stage and necessary supplies for the Cape Ann industry, and
threatened to fight for their possession. Hereupon Bradford sent men to
defend their authority, and help build a new drying stage; but those who
were left in charge conducted the business so unsuccessfully that it was
finally abandoned.

The Governor was now relieved from the chain of crises which had
threatened to overthrow the Colony from its beginning. In the fourth
year he found himself at the head of about one hundred and eighty
people, including approximately a score of persons not in the trading
company, together occupying thirty-two dwellings within the stockade. By
the tenth year, 1630, Plymouth had grown to about three hundred

When the Merchant Adventurers had failed in their scheme to break up the
Pilgrim order in America as in England, and so as a body had deserted
Plymouth, four of their former company showed their own faithfulness by
sending in 1625, on their own account, more cattle and clothing. In
their accompanying letter, they subscribed themselves, over mere
initials, "your assured freinds to our powers." The following extract
reveals their desire to impart cheer, as well as good things, to the
distant toilers, in whom they also felt confidence.

"Let us all indeavor to keep a faire & honest course, and see what time
will bring forth, and how God in his providence will worke for us. We
still are perswaded you are y^e people that must make a plantation in
those remoate places when all others faile and returne. And your
experience of Gods providence and preservation of you is such as we hope
your harts will not faile you, though your friends should forsake you
(which we our selves will not doe whilst we live, so long as your
honestie so well appereth).... Goe on, good friends, comfortably, pluck
up your spirits, and quitte your selves like men in all your
difficulties, that notwithstanding all displeasure and threats of men,
yet y^e work may goe on you are aboute, and not be neglected."

Myles Standish was sent over in hope of persuading the Merchant
Adventurers to hold together, with the aid also of the nominally ruling
Council for New England. But his earnest efforts met with only partial
success, in a time of industrial depression prevalent on account of the
fearful pestilence there, together with an uncertain political situation
embarrassed by rumors of war with France. Nevertheless Bradford
recorded for Plymouth, that "in y^e mean time, it pleased the Lord to
give y^e plantation peace and health and contented minds, and so to
blese their labours, as they had corn sufficient, (and some to spare to
others,) with other foode; neither ever had they any supply of foode but
what they first brought with them." He had previously spoken of the
provisions brought by the sixty in 1623, but they retained them for
their own use, and had no more than what they carried over with them.

After Captain Standish returned from abroad, however, their peace of
mind was sorely tested. They learned that their loved pastor, Mr.
Robinson, could no more hope to rejoin them, for he had passed away, as
also had their capable agent Robert Cushman, who expected soon to come
to them. The efficient Sherley was seriously ill, whose initials had led
in the joint letter of encouragement the year before. Many of their
friends in Leyden likewise were dying, while others lamented that they
could not leave Holland for New England. King James too had died, and
Charles now reigned. Considering all these important changes, the
Governor writes again:

"To looke humanly on y^e state of things as they presented them selves
at this time, it is a marvell it did not wholy discourage them, and
sinck them. But they gathered up their spirits, and y^e Lord so helped
them, whose worke they had in hand, as now when they were at lowest
they begane to rise againe, and being striped (in a maner) of all human
helps and hops, he brought things aboute other wise, in his devine
providence, as they were not only upheld & sustained, but their
proceedings both honoured and imitated by others."

They went resolutely to work anew, giving their attention to planting
and trading. Bradford and Winslow proceeded by boat, with several hands,
to Monhegan Island in Maine, where an attempted plantation was about to
give up and sell out their trading stock. A good supply of articles
being procured, a number of debts were cleared away in consequence, and
clothing bought for those who still needed it. Little by little their
wants were being met, and actual discomfort prevented.

Also Isaac Allerton was commissioned to go to England the same year
Myles Standish came back, and with the assistance of friends over there,
a formal agreement satisfactory to the colonists was drawn up and
subscribed by forty-two Merchant Adventurers. Thereupon in 1627 Bradford
and six or seven other leading citizens ran a large venture and made
themselves personally responsible for the eventual purchase, by them and
their partners, of the revived English company's interest in the Colony,
amounting to eighteen hundred pounds, of which two hundred were to be
paid annually at the Royal Exchange in London. Next year, 1628, the
transaction was fully confirmed, with the best legal counsel available;
and the first instalment was paid. This gradual settlement was completed
three years ahead of time, with the help of a large quantity of beaver

Yet it was ten years beyond the expiration of those creditors' time
limit of nine years before the Colony was finally free from heavy
indebtedness to other parties in England, so making a financial struggle
of a quarter of a century from the landing of the Pilgrims. To the
lasting wonder of all who consider them, they exhibited alongside of
their piety, a practical business ability and perseverance, which
ultimately was not frustrated by reverses such as the seizure of
consignments by national enemies, and the loan to themselves of
absolutely necessary sums at the fearfully extortionate rate of thirty
and even fifty per cent. An indomitable tenacity, and the endurance of
rock, reposed in these gentle spirits.

To facilitate commercial progress, Governor Bradford, Captain Standish
and other competent men came before the body of colonists, recounted the
weight of debt upon them, in this matter of buying out the English
company's interest, and offered to undertake the payment of it
themselves, instead of merely being responsible for the others; only
they asked that they might have the trade of the Colony for six years,
after which it was to revert to them all, who were called the
generality. The Colony was to purchase its exemption by yearly
delivering to this internal smaller company a specified amount of
agricultural products.

This was a hazardous responsibility for the few most concerned, none of
whom were persons of real affluence; and yet they felt this was the only
feasible way to push trade, unhindered by too cumbrous an organization,
in which a number of incapable individuals, and even some less earnest,
were sure to be found. Efficiency and resolution were certainly needed;
for this little inner company dared to attempt, in two-thirds of the
time granted for the full payment of the eighteen hundred pounds, not
only the discharge of that encumbrance, but various other obligations
devolving upon the plantation, approximating six hundred pounds, or a
third of the other sum. It was a bold venture truly, in their still
limited circumstances and with the loss of valuable helpers abroad:--to
assume liabilities aggregating between two and three thousand pounds, or
more specifically, about twelve thousand dollars in our currency.
Insignificant enough for a well established community, the load was
large for these straitened pioneers in an almost unbroken wilderness,
who recently throughout several years had struggled for their very
lives. The feebleness of their condition makes their courage colossal.

Yet the Governor and his several partners in this enterprise were no
hot-headed speculators, rashly making chimerical castles in the air, or
busily blowing financial bubbles with foolhardy recklessness. They were
a brainy group, and the outcome proved their judgment sober. Having by
this time some basis of calculation, they took the long look, knew what
they were about, and, though purposing to be as prompt as possible, were
too cool to be in a hurry. Their sound discretion never failed; and they
displayed that rare balance which blends quiet repose of mind with
resistless energy.

One fortunate effect of such stress of business burdens was to develop
territorial exploitation. To fulfil their purposes, they enlarged the
area of their industry. Southward and northward their commerce spread. A
small pinnace was built and placed in Monumet river, emptying into
Buzzard's Bay. This could be reached by boat from Cape Cod Bay and
Scusset river, with some colportage overland between those two streams;
so avoiding the dangerous peninsular circumnavigation, and marking the
main course of the present Cape Cod Canal. Thus was opened all the lower
coast of New England, including the populous Narragansett Bay; access
was given to the mouth of the Connecticut River, with its fair valley
intersecting the country; and the approach was unimpeded, through Long
Island Sound, to the New Netherlands. Here was trading ground indeed,
all the way to the promising harbor at the Hudson's mouth and the seat
of the mighty metropolis to be. This southern enterprise brought
substantial returns.

Also in the north, a store house was put up on the Kennebec River, where
Augusta, the capital city of Maine, should afterward arise. The Council
for New England, over the signature of its president the Earl of
Warwick, made out a patent to William Bradford, granting territory
thirteen miles on the River, and extending fifteen miles on either side.
Business there did so well at first, that the American debtors gained
headway, until a disappointing agent abroad occasioned trouble by
private competition. After carrying on trade for ten years, they leased
the post for one-sixth of its profits, so receiving some regular income

In 1629 another Mayflower vessel brought to Plymouth thirty-five more
Pilgrims from Leyden via the new settlement of Salem, and later a
smaller number followed, but poorer and less capable, though worthy
persons all. This serious matter, resulting partly from the indiscretion
of friends, incurred an expense for transportation, new clothing and
considerable maintenance, to the amount of over five thousand dollars in
our money. The bulk of it was borne by several new partners in England;
yet Plymouth's share was equivalent to a thousand dollars or a little
more, which was never repaid to the Colony or even demanded back, and
became a chief cause of Plymouth's indebtedness during its first quarter
of a century. Commenting on this final extra burden from abroad,
Bradford thus expresses his wonder "that these poor people here in a
wilderness should, notwithstanding, be inabled in time to repay all
these ingagments, and many more unjustly brought upon them through the
unfaithfulness of some, and many other great losses which they
sustained, which will be made manifest, if y^e Lord be pleased to give
life and time. In y^e mean time, I cannot but admire his ways and workes
towards his servants, and humbly desire to blesse his holy name for his
great mercies hithertoo."

Even more than the intricacies of financial entanglements, the
responsibilities of diplomacy rested in large measure upon the colonial
leader. He had to deal not only with the unsympathetic home government
in England, but at one time with Dutch pretensions in New England, which
emanated from Fort Manhattan on the future site of New York City.
Perceiving clearly that they possessed a place of immense natural
advantage, the desire of these Hollanders was enlarged, to extend their
area, both commercially and politically, from this safe and promising
base. They therefore sent letters to Plymouth in its seventh year, the
year of the trading station's establishment near Buzzard's Bay on the

Correspondence opened with this ample salutation as rendered in

"Noble, honorable, wise and prudent Lords, the Governor and Councillors
residing in New Plymouth, our very good friends."

Bradford replied with an equally cordial tone, in which lay no lack of

"To the Honoured, &c.

"The Gov^r & Counsell of New Plim: wisheth, &c. We have received your
letters, &c. wherin appeareth your good wills & frendship toward us; but
is expressed with over high titls, more than belongs to us, or is meete
for us to receive. But for your good will, and congratulations of our
prosperitie in these smale beginings of our pore colonie, we are much
bound unto you, and with many thanks doe acknowledge y^e same; taking it
both for a great honour done unto us, and for a certaine testimony of
your love and good neighborhood."

After this modest beginning of his message, one discerns in the next
sentence, underneath its tenor of genuine amity, a deep note of well
disguised warning, that no open question exists in the matter of mutual
territorial relations. Thus the subordinate and latent inference is
couched, almost like some unintended meaning which nevertheless carries
more weight than with a studied significance; for Bradford's very
honesty itself was his constant safety:

"Now these are further to give your Wor^{pps} to understand, that it is
to us no smale joye to hear, that his majestie hath not only bene
pleased to confirme y^t ancient amitie, aliance, and frendship, and
other contracts, formerly made & ratified by his predecessors of famous
memorie, but hath him selfe (as you say) strengthened the same with a
new-union the better to resist y^e prid of y^t comone enemy y^e
Spaniard, from whose cruelty the Lord keep us both, and our native

Following the adroit but legitimate suggestion, that their harmony is
the more desirable in view of their natural foes, he concludes with this
reminder of their former happy concord in Holland:

"Now forasmuch as this is sufficiente to unite us togeather in love and
good neighbourhood, in all our dealings, yet are many of us further
obliged, by the good and curteous entreaty which we have found in your
countrie; haveing lived ther many years, with freedome, and good
contente, as also many of our freinds doe to this day; for which we, and
our children after us, are bound to be thankfull to your Nation, and
shall never forgett y^e same, but shall hartily desire your good &
prosperity, as our owne, for ever."

Notwithstanding these veiled admonitions, the Dutch sent further
epistles, asserting now a claim over English territorial and trade
rights, and declaring that they would defend the claim. Yet the Plymouth
Governor's versatile mind and ready tact were equal to this new crisis,
delicate as it was, and fraught with momentous possibilities. There was
considerable correspondence, and mutual insistence, though always with
conventional courtesy of language. Bradford preserved part of these
diplomatic communications in his Letter Book. He remained firm in the
English title, knowing the ground therefor, and requested the Manhattan
magistrates to refer to their own home government, while he deprecated
any future trouble to them from the British crown.

In the conclusion of one of his missives he offers this advice:

"We desire your Honours, that ye would take into your wise and honorable
considerations, that which we conceive may be a hindrance to this
accordation, and may be a means of much future evil, if it be not
prevented, namely, that you clear the title of your planting in these
parts, which his Majesty hath, by patent, granted to divers his nobles
and subjects of quality; least it be a bone of division in these
stirring evil times, which God forbid: We persuade ourselves, that now
may be easily and seasonably done, which will be harder and with more
difficulty obtained hereafter, and perhaps not without blows; so there
may be assured peace and good correspondence on all parts, and ourselves
more free and able to contract with your Honours. Thus commending our
best service to our most noble Lords, praying for the prosperous success
of your worthy designs, we rest your Lordships'

        Most sincerely affected and bounden,
            William Bradford,
                Governour, &c.
    Plymouth, Oct. 1, Anno 1627."

This seemed to be enough. They desisted from such designs as might not
be deemed "worthy" by the benevolent English Governor, and for which he
did not say he might pray. The unwarranted question was dropped, as to
the Dutch prerogative.

Nevertheless next year the Manhattan correspondent, Secretary Isaac de
Rasier, came to the Monumet station with trumpeters and a retinue, and
was conveyed to Plymouth by a boat sent to meet him. After several days'
entertainment, he returned to his ship under escort, having been
permitted to accomplish his unprofessed purpose, to observe the
condition of the fortified English Colony, of which he delivered a
description, still extant, to his superiors at New Amsterdam.

In 1633 Bradford also sustained the British claim in the Connecticut
valley above the Hollanders' holdings, sending a vessel up the river to
the navigable limits, past the threatening Dutch fort at Hartford, and
establishing a trading post at present Windsor. Both New Amsterdam and
Massachusetts had repeatedly encouraged them to do this, but repented.
This mercantile base was embarrassed by a wide-spread plague among the
Indians, most of whom were unfriendly. After this reverse it was taken
up by a party from Dorchester and, on Bradford's protest, only a
sixteenth share in it was returned to Plymouth. The matter caused some
feeling in the Old Colony toward its newer northern neighbor. Such
rivalries and questions of debate between the two English sections made
evident the need of the inter-colonial union which later arose. Harmony
was sought and usually prevailed.

Captain John Endicott, the new Governor of Massachusetts Bay residing at
Salem, proceeded promptly to recognize Plymouth's head in this truly
fraternal manner (his spelling modernized):

"To the worshipful and my right worthy friend, William Bradford, Esq.
Governor of New Plymouth, these.

"Right Worthy Sir,

"It is a thing not usual, that servants to one master and of the same
household should be strangers; I assure you I desire it not, nay to
speak more plainly, I cannot be so to you: God's people are marked with
one and the same mark, and sealed with one and the same seal, and have
for the main one and the same heart, guided by one and the same spirit
of truth; and where this is, there can be no discord, nay, here must
needs be sweet harmony; and the same request (with you) I make unto the
Lord, that we may, as Christian brethren, be united by an heavenly and
unfeigned love, bending all our hearts and forces in furthering a work
beyond our strength with reverence and fear, fastening our eyes always
on him that only is able to direct and prosper all our ways."

In the following summer of 1629 the sincere and cultured pastors at
Salem, Higginson and Skelton, though ordained clergymen, wished to be
set apart anew. To this religious assembly William Bradford and other
delegates from the Plymouth church were invited. Adverse winds delayed
their arrival by sail, and even the days of the stagecoach were then in
the future; but happily they were in time to give the right hand of
fellowship to their brethren of the Bay.

The closely allied civil and religious interests of the time were
further promoted between north and south, under Governor John Winthrop,
in his third year at Boston, the new and growing colonial seat. This
excellent man wished to visit his gubernatorial brother, Bradford, and
associates. There had been great sickness at Boston in its beginning, as
in Plymouth at first, though proportionately not so severe in the colony
which started with much better numbers. These Bostonians in their crisis
bought every available commodity from Plymouth, and for cattle they
exchanged horses. Thus by their very exigencies, a good degree of
commercial intercourse and brotherly regard was facilitated.

With Governor Winthrop went the Boston pastor, Reverend John Wilson, and
two other companions. Their journey was partly by water and latterly by
land. Informed of their coming, a party headed by Governor Bradford and
Elder Brewster hastened forth to meet them in the evening, and attended
them into the town. During their stay of some days, they received the
best entertainment that could be given them, at the executive residence
and other homes. And when they returned, they were accompanied for some
distance on their way, Bradford having his horse carry Winthrop.

The Boston chief dignitary, historian of Massachusetts Bay as Governor
Bradford was of Plymouth, wrote of the Sabbath which he and his comrades
spent with their Pilgrim brethren. At that time Roger Williams,
afterwards the devoted missionary and pioneer among the Rhode Island
Indians, was living at Plymouth for a couple of years, and was mentioned
by Winthrop in his narration, as was Reverend Ralph Smith, first pastor
there for a short time, a good but mediocre man. Thus the record reads,
in modern spelling:

"On the Lord's Day was a sacrament, which they did partake in; and in
the afternoon Mr. Roger Williams, according to their custom, propounded
a question, to which their pastor, Mr. Smith, spoke briefly. Mr.
Williams prophesied the topic he had submitted; and after, the Governor
of Plymouth spoke to the question; after him, the Elder; then some two
or three more of the congregation. Then the Elder desired the Governor
of Massachusetts and Mr. Wilson to speak to it, which they did. When
this was ended, the deacon, Mr. Fuller, put the congregation in mind of
the contribution, upon which the Governor and all the rest went down to
the deacon's seat and put into the bag, and then returned."

Edward Winslow also once described another feature of their worship:

"We refresht ourselves ... with synginge of Psalmes, making joyfull
melodie in our hartes, as well as with y^e voice, there being manie in
y^e congregation verie experte in musick."



    _I venture the prophecy that for countless years to come and to
    untold thousands these mute pages shall eloquently speak of high
    resolve, great suffering and heroic endurance made possible by
    an absolute faith in the over-ruling providence of Almighty

        Governor Roger Wolcott of Massachusetts, at the Bradford
        History Presentation, May 26, 1897.

    _Quae patres difficillime adepti sunt nolite turpiter
    (_What the Fathers with greatest difficulty effected do not
    basely abandon._)

        Inscription on the monument of William Bradford
        at Plymouth.

    _Sicut patribus, sit Deus nobis._
    (_As with the Fathers, so may God be with us._)


In their personal visitation the colonial leaders had opportunity to
confer on matters of mutual interest, before there was any thought of
their respective territories becoming merged indissolubly into a noble
Commonwealth. In 1630 Bradford had received in his name a patent, which
ten years later the Plymouth court requested to have; but on his ready
compliance, it returned the same at once to him, to whom and his heirs
it had been made out by the authorities in England. This charter
specified the area of the Old Colony, which, under the jurisdiction of
Plymouth, extended from Scituate, considerably below Boston harbor, to
Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, with Cape Cod on the east. Not long
after this it included ten towns.

Soon a decided forward step was taken, toward unity. In September 7,
1643, a confederation was formed, composed of the colonies of
Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut and New Haven, and named The
United Colonies of New England. Probably this coalition was in the minds
of those who founded the United States of America. There are
similarities in the very constitutions of the two governmental
organizations, small and large. The four colonial sections were
associated on a basis of political equality. A federal congress was
formed, there being two representative delegates from every Colony, who
were called commissioners, with one of them presiding. William Bradford
was four times a commissioner from Plymouth; and twice he was chosen
president, the second time in 1656, the last full year of his life.

The preamble to this federal constitution thus commences: "Wheras we
all came into these parts of America with one and y^e same end and aime,
namly, to advance the kingdome of our Lord Jesus Christ, & to injoye y^e
liberties of y^e Gospell in puritie with peace; and wheras in our
setling (by a wise providence of God) we are further disperced upon y^e
sea coasts and rivers then was at first intended, so y^t we cannot,
according to our desires, communicate in one governmente &

This union was highly desirable, from considerations foreign and
domestic. The supreme home government was in a condition of uncertainty
suggestive of either radical change or revolution itself; and so it
would be less able to attend to its provinces in case of need. And need
might be at any time, with rival neighboring colonies under other
national flags, and with the growing realization of the savages that if
they wished for their former independence they must fight for it, soon
or never. These facts were plainly perceived in the English settlements,
with their loose and informal interconnection of only national and
religious sympathy.

The Massachusetts Bay Colony, beginning at Salem, had been powerfully
augmented at Charlestown and Boston in the summer of 1630, by the
arrival of its Governor John Winthrop and others who were soon followed
by the New England fleet of no less than ten more vessels carrying about
fifteen hundred colonists. The great natural facilities of Boston
harbor and its environments encouraged a steady and numerous
immigration, so that in 1643, the year of confederation, it is estimated
that five times as many were found there as in the Old Colony.
Connecticut comprised now about the same number as the latter, three
thousand, and New Haven half a thousand less. Numerically, therefore,
the English in New England were not yet strong. Yet they were constantly
growing in this and every respect, having now nearly fifteen thousand
acres of grain and a thousand acres in gardens and orchards, with two
thousand cattle and three thousand sheep.

The limited body of legislators in this confederation, was composed,
however, of truly representative men. And Bradford had much previous
experience in law. The first few and simple statutes of Plymouth were
revised and enlarged in 1636, when eight delegates, representing also
Duxbury and Scituate, co-operated with the Governor and his seven

The seal of authority which he was accustomed to use was a double eagle.
He was Chief Justice, Speaker of the General Court, which granted him a
double vote, and Auditor of the Treasury, all these functions being,
however, on a scale so limited as to forbid what in larger setting would
seem an excess of prerogatives. The record of the 1621 meersteads are in
his hand, as was the lost register of early deaths, marriages and

Bradford felt keenly the numerical loss of Plymouth colonists who went
out to form new communities. Everywhere the pioneer mood was for
expansion. In this way he was also deprived of a group of able men. Yet
they remained mostly in the Old Colony, except Edward Winslow, who
finally returned to England. In the year of colonial union Elder
Brewster passed away, who had been not only a most worthy and acceptable
preacher and virtual pastor at Plymouth, but a close adviser to the
Governor, even as he had been the counsellor of his youth. The efficient
military head, Myles Standish, was released by death from further
responsibilities in 1656; and Bradford survived him only into the next
year, having still the company of the public-spirited and helpful John
Howland, of the remaining Mayflower Pilgrims.

Many of the best people of England were leaving for America. Much alarm
was felt by the home government on this account, in whose eyes colonial
New England always represented protest. The former vacillated between
aggression and hesitating aloofness toward this uncomfortable element of
dissent, exceedingly vexed at such persistent survival and vigorous
increase, and yet recognizing its most promising contribution to the
strength of the realm. But always again, where royalty wavered, or on
the other hand in desperation leaped to violent opposition, the prelacy
was close behind it with an urgency which often bordered upon

Of course the exception to this otherwise uniformly uncongenial
Anglo-American interrelation was the regime of the Commonwealth. Had
Cromwell sat on the throne of George IV, we would undoubtedly have been
a lower Canada for a period of time difficult to delimit. It has been
aptly stated that the Oriental idea of conquest was without
incorporation, the Roman idea was conquest with incorporation but
without representation, and the English idea of empire building was
incorporation with representation. This is eminently true as regards
England, to her credit be it said. And herein was her folly in forcing
the American Revolution, because at that time she fell from her own
ideals, which have so signally succeeded in the policy of practical
colonial autonomy, vastly promoting her beneficent power.

This happy principle of provincial administration was not yet developed
in the seventeenth century, which was a season of preparation for the
stupendous blunder of the eighteenth, perpetrated by a head-strong
despot without the sympathy of his own home people or a large part of
Parliament. The root of the trouble then was taxation without
representation, and England learned a valuable lesson after quite an
awkward experience. But regal antagonism found its provincial object in
religious dissent as early as 1634, when a warrant was issued to stay
several vessels about to sail for America. In King Charles' reign, three
ships were assigned to convey a governor and bishops to the west.
Massachusetts was greatly stirred up in regard to this, forts were
ordered built, and resistance was meditated. The program of absolutism
lagged. Nevertheless it looked like a critical juncture, before the
tension was relieved by the rise of revolution in Scotland, which
resulted in the monarch's dethronement and decapitation. The lords
accepted the colonists' petition, and gave forth that they did not
intend to curtail their liberties.

The New England Federation was an unprofessed Declaration of
Independence. Their virtual assertion of popular sovereignty was
temporarily smothered by imported tyranny in the shape of Sir Edmund
Andros. Yet the people's power slowly continued to grow, and the
erection of Harvard College was a mighty factor in the process before a
decade had passed in the Bay Colony. Thither Plymouth sent her youth of

The claim is presumably warranted, that the unsought but unchanging
popular choice of the chief executive, this cordial will of the Plymouth
people as a body, occasioned the later departure of individuals or small
groups of citizens who might wish to give exercise to political
aspirations, where fresh settlements offered more room for choice
without a solid constituency for any one favorite. The Plymouth voters
were the more ardent for their man, because he returned the patent
which, if strictly interpreted by the old English law, would make him
Lord of the Manor and the colonists his tenants. In the essential
democracy of the American community, he would be the last person to use
the anciently established privilege; but evidently because of the
technical possibility the Court finally requested him to surrender his
charter, and then, pleased at his ready compliance, as promptly restored
it. They knew him beyond all doubt, after that transaction of 1640 if
not before.

His long continued term is especially noteworthy when we reflect that he
was upheld as an ideal leader by a company of citizens who were
ethically most exacting. They were peers of the best in all human
society, and to satisfy such was indeed a compliment. At the same time,
men and women of their excellent type, speaking at least for those of
the church considered in their civic order, were too noble to need the
ordinary repressions incident to the task of governing. Except for the
necessary form and precedent, their moral grandeur required no governor.

Though he wrote against the sectaries with their sinister
politico-religious designs or wishes, he did not drive them out unless
actual treason developed. The Pilgrims realized they were themselves
exiles from intolerance. Yet there was a degree of intolerance after
Bradford passed out from Plymouth, and what bigotry was discoverable in
Boston then was felt somewhat at the older settlement. The successor of
Carver, like most of his associates, was also free from superstition,
placing no credence in the supernatural omens of comets and celestial

It was his understood duty to entertain strangers, especially visiting
officials. The Jesuit Driulette spoke afterward of his kindness, noting
also that as host on Friday, he served an excellent dinner of fish.

At least seven orphans, but probably many more, at one time or another
found refuge beneath his roof. Robert Cushman, the Pilgrim agent who
died after valued services abroad, requested that his son Thomas might
receive a father's care from Bradford, and the latter brought him up
with such faithful training that eventually his charge became Elder
Brewster's successor. To cite one further instance of his kindness, in
1644 Bradford wrote to his wife's sister, Mary Carpenter, inviting her
to come to them though they had grown old, as he said. She accepted and
lived with them in such tranquillity, as a devout maiden lady, that she
survived till past ninety.

The Plymouth town meetings were held at first in the Governor's house.
But in at least two of the years when relieved by a successor in office
and sometimes during his gubernatorial term as in 1643, the more
strenuous first year of Federation, he occupied his house and farm of
three hundred acres in present Kingston, which he owned as early as
1637, above the Jones River. He was among its explorers who took such a
liking for the locality that they were tempted to establish the
settlement there; but the stream ran shallow at ebb tide, and the
surrounding woods rendered the situation more unsafe. In this quiet
summer retreat he must have found more leisure to pen much of his
careful History. When that had ended, by 1647, tenants occupied the
farm, and he is thought to have returned to town.

The inventory of his property specifies "the old mare," possibly when in
her prime the one he caused Governor Winthrop to mount, while the
latter's party were escorted forth after visiting Plymouth, the
departure being probably fully as ceremonious as when they were
conducted to town after nightfall. Two horses besides, and a couple of
colts are cited, with twenty-six head of cattle of various ages, and
sheep and swine. He was the largest property holder, Standish rating
next. At his decease he was worth about nine hundred pounds.

He possessed considerable real estate in Plymouth centre, particularly
the area between the Hill and Main Street, and across on the site of
Pilgrim Hall. An orchard and garden adjoined his town residence.

The house concerned with the inventory of his estate shows how far
superior the executive residence must have been, to the original log
cottages. The long list of articles in the inventory is available to
those interested in all the minutiæ. Every item has its valuation. The
old parlor's furnishings head this attractive catalogue of the contents
of his home, and imagination is not greatly taxed to see the possessor

This reception room includes the green rug, quite likely the same as
that early mentioned, and a white one, table and cupboard and settle, a
smooth-grained "wainscot" bedstead and feather bed, and among the chairs
a large leather one and great wooden ones, with muskets, a pistol and a

We pass in thought to "the great Rome," over three striped carpets and
amidst chairs, great and small; and here may have been the public
functions, as the annual meeting.

In "the new chamber," among articles of clothing picture two suits with
silver buttons, one of them leaden-colored, garments of sufficient
distinction for a magistrate, as are a coat of broadcloth, a well used
violet-colored cloak and dignified old green gown. A black hat and
colored one are mentioned without allusion to age. Fourteen pairs of
shoes appear, and one hundred and thirteen yards of different cloth.

The family hospitality is evinced by sixty-four pewter pieces, some
silverware and a few Venetian glasses, four dozen trenchers, and kitchen
utensils of brass and iron.

Among many things in the "studdie" are his desk, presumably the witness
of an incalculable amount of official business, and seven small moose
skins for the silent tread. There is a good collection of books, though
the most of them were passed on in his lifetime, especially to his son
William who possessed the father's fondness for Latin and inherited
those classical treasures. But the Governor retained to the last various
historical and theological works, among which were Luther's commentary
on Galatians, Calvin on Genesis, a history of the Church of the
Netherlands, and Cotton's concordance. A volume on "domesticall dutyes"
is cited, to the accomplishment of which attest two spinning wheels.
Mrs. Bradford certified to this appraisal.

The will was made May 9, Old Style, the very day of his decease, when he
"feeling himself very weake and drawing on to the conclusion of his
mortal life spake as followeth." In the beginning of this testament he
was described as "weake in body but in p^{pct} memory," and he named the
sole executrix as "my dear and loving wife Alice Bradford."

Thus the dictated statement closes: "I commend to your wisdome some
small bookes written by my owne hand to bee improved as you shall see
meet. In speciall I comend to you a little book with a black cover,
wherein there is a word to Plymouth and a word to Boston and a word to
New England with sundry useful verses."

The family record, from Governor Bradford's birth, was contained in a
Bible printed 1592 in old English.

Posterity is vastly indebted to William Bradford as the resident
historian of Plymouth Colony, throughout its first quarter of a century.
His narration of the Pilgrim story begins almost with the seventeenth
century, before the exodus to Holland. He makes no entries beyond 1646,
although, in the same neat handwriting, these dates are added--"Anno
1647. And Anno 1648." Similarly, 1639 and '40 had been joined together,
the author expressing his opinion that they did not cover enough matters
of importance for separate treatment. But two years after the last date
mentioned in the main volume, he concludes an Appendix with these words:

"And of the old stock (of one & other) ther are yet living this present
year, 1650, nere 30 persons. Let the Lord have y^e praise, who is the
High Preserver of men."

In the opening chapter, we find on a reverse page a note dated during
that last year of the continuous record, 1646, wherein he says--"when I
first begane these scribled writings (which was aboute y^e year 1630,
and so peeced up at times of leasure afterward)." It would seem that no
season of sufficient leisure arrived even to begin, before that
strenuous first decade had nearly elapsed.

It is consistent with the unfailing humility that graced the people's
chosen and beloved leader that, although as such he necessarily had a
most important part in the affairs of the Colony, he speaks of his
official self, when this is unavoidable, in an impersonal manner only;
and he rather rarely introduces the pronoun "I," or even its inclusive
plural "we," but usually employs the third person.

The language of this monumental work is that of a careful recorder,
plain and unaffected, having a lucid simplicity combined with the
replete vocabulary of a reflective literary mind. The style is dignified
and chaste, neither labored nor strained. Its fluent grace and ease of
diction compels and sustains the interest of the reader, whatever page
he may peruse. It is a model specimen of Elizabethan literature. The
account proceeds with a thoughtful deliberation and river-like momentum
of progressiveness. One realizes the faithful and honest
comprehensiveness of his memory's scrutiny, obeying the habitual call of
his conscience, which would not allow him the transcription of untruths
under any circumstances. His review "of Plimoth Plantation" is well
worthy of its place as New England's first historical record of
considerable extent, following Edward Winslow's fascinating journal of
the three initial years.

It is the privilege of everyone to look upon this hoary manuscript,
bound in its time-worn parchment, and exhibited under glass in a
specially prepared strong case upon its nightly enclosing iron safe at
the Massachusetts State Library. The volume is a folio less than a foot
long, nearly eight inches wide, and an inch and a half in thickness,
having two hundred and seventy pages. At the outbreak of the Revolution
the priceless treasure disappeared and was long lost; but finally, in
1855, it was found and identified in the library of the Bishop of
London. Just when and how it reached its destination there, remains a
mystery. The British occupation of Boston would make its seizure easy,
and the home government may have desired it for official entries.
Senator George F. Hoar of Massachusetts, who said of the classic
document, "There is nothing like it in human annals since the story of
Bethlehem," voiced to Sir Frederick Temple, Bishop of London, the
earnest desire of the Commonwealth and the Federal administration for
its return. The Bishop recognized the justice of the request, but
considered it necessary or advisable to consult Queen Victoria and Dr.
Benson, who was Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of the Established
Church of all England. But directly the venerable and scholarly Dr.
Temple himself succeeded to the supreme ecclesiastical office at
Canterbury; and in response to a formal request from the United States
Ambassador, Hon. Thomas F. Bayard, the cherished tome was conveyed to
America in 1897, and received by Governor Roger Wolcott, a lineal
descendant of Governor Bradford. The formal presentation at the State
House made an impressive occasion, with memorable addresses. Such,
briefly stated, is the singular history of the History.

Two other literary properties of Bradford also disappeared. His Pocket
Book was preserved long enough to furnish the chronologist, Rev. Thomas
Prince of Boston, with many dates of great importance, and other
material of incalculable use.

His Letter Book was a large volume containing copies of letters in
regard to the Colony's affairs. Such a collection of reproduced missives
betokened the carefulness and preparedness of the possessor. A fragment
of it was discovered in a Halifax grocery, and published by the
Massachusetts Historical Society. Six of these letters found were
written by Bradford alone, and three jointly. They were mostly official.
Appended to this correspondence file was the Governor's interesting
description and short historical review of New England, written in metre
and rhyme.

Though we who speak of William Bradford as our Forefather should not be
moved by pride, as no man is responsible for his own birth, it causes in
us profound gratitude that we can affirm our relationship to one who has
been called the first great American. Men of renown before his day, a
few of them, had a touch with this country, as the very conspicuous
connections of famous discoverers; but the epithet applies to him as a
continuous resident of the land. His life and labors were permanently
given to it as his adopted abode, for he never left it from the day of
his coming in the prime of his manhood. In what, let us ask, did his
greatness consist? Others shared in heroic faithfulness, to the limit of
their powers or opportunities. His was the magnitude of an immovable
fidelity joined with marked ability, though, as with Washington, his
mental genius was not the most brilliant. But he carried well and long
exceedingly weighty responsibilities.

When has a combination of so many most critical problems confronted a
magistrate? Weakened by disease which threatened utter extermination,
the Colony encountered a tedious period of famine; it was menaced by
hostile savage tribes stronger than the friendly natives; the
malevolence of foreign persecution plotted the overthrow of its chosen
religious order; treason sprang up in its midst; a staggering weight of
financial obligations, made heavier by accidents and outrageous
injustice, lay upon them for a quarter of a century; and the seventh
problem, which stayed by the Governor till his final release, was that
presented by the frequent loss of citizens attracted by new settlements,
a circumstance so serious that the question of moving the whole Colony
was raised as late as 1644. In all the arduous activities occasioned by
these facts, he possessed the quality of steady endurance. His soul was
reposeful in energy, while his underlying faith made him an optimist but
not a visionary, and lent both basis and balance in his working.

To Bradford also belongs the singular honor of being the first ruler to
demonstrate, with his associates, true Christian democracy, not
exaggerated into communism, as a successful principle of government.

Peaceful was his departure, from the scene of his colossal tasks. He
last presided at court February 13, 1657. The annual meeting in March
found him absent. But though his health declined for a few months, to be
followed by a sudden and acute disease in May, the end came soon. One
night he was so moved with anticipations of the hereafter, that he said
in the morning to those about him, "The good Spirit of God has given me
a pledge of my happiness in another world, and the first-fruits of
eternal glory." About nine o'clock on the next day, May 19, after he had
dictated his will, his breathing ceased.

His endeared form was laid to rest in the brow of the gently swelling
eminence which overlooks the site of his homestead of thirty-six years
and the blue bay seemingly meeting the heavens beyond the harbor,
suggestive of the final voyage to scenes of yet nobler liberty. His
obsequies were observed with fitting dignity, accentuated by resounding
volleys. The distinguished clergyman, Cotton Mather of Boston, wrote in
eulogy, that he was "lamented by all the colonies of New England as a
common father to them all."

Let his own simple verses summarize his career.

    "From my years young in days of youth,
    God did make known to me his truth,
    And call'd me from my native place
    For to enjoy the means of grace.
    In wilderness he did me guide,
    And in strange lands for me provide.
    In fears and wants, through weal and woe,
    A pilgrim, past I to and fro;
    Oft left of them whom I did trust;
    How vain it is to rest on dust!

           *       *       *       *       *

    Wars, wants, peace, plenty, have I known;
    And some advanc'd, others thrown down.

           *       *       *       *       *

    When fears and sorrows have been mixt,
    Consolations came betwixt."

And thus, foreseeing his taking away, he gave his blessing:

    "Farewell, dear children whom I love,
    Your better Father is above:
    When I am gone, he can supply;
    To him I leave you when I die.
    Fear him in truth, walk in his ways,
    And he will bless you all your days.
    My days are spent, old age is come,
    My strength it fails, my glass near run:
    Now I will wait, when work is done,
    Until my happy change shall come,
    When from my labours I shall rest,
    With Christ above for to be blest."


    Ancestors, 17, 18

    Auditor, 92

    Baptism, 12

    Birth, 12

    Burial, 106

    Capability, 20, 42, 92, 105

    Carefulness, 12, 64, 69, 104

    Character in general, 42, 104

    Chief Justice, 92

    Commissioner, United Colonies, 90

    Correspondence, 43, 44, 81, 104

    Courage, 21, 41, 43, 51, 76

    Craftsman, 22, 24

    Death, 100, 106

    Deputy Governor, 42

    Diplomacy, 43, 80

    Discernment, 54, 68

    Discipline, 42, 48

    Education, 20, 22

    Escapes, 21, 35, 38

    Family, 59

    Farmer, 97

    "First Great American," 104

      Administration characterized, 42
      First term, 41
      Returned, 42, 95

    Gratitude, 27, 48, 80, 107

    Guardian, 97

    Historian, 58, 101

    Hospitality, 52, 63, 67, 97

    Humility, 5, 11, 25, 42, 43, 62, 81, 95, 101

      In childhood, 18
      In maturity, 38, 41
      Final, 100, 106

    Judgment, 25-6, 46, 49, 53

    Justice, 43, 44, 57, 69, 72, 83, 85, 96

    Legislator, 92

    Library, 100

      First, 12, 24
      Second, 59

    Mercy, 43, 63, 68

    Patentee, 79, 90, 95

    Pedestrian, 20, 48

    Perseverance, 21, 76

    Piety, 12, 21, 61, 48, 80, 87-8, 101, 106, 107

    President, United Colonies, 90

    Property, 18, 23, 98

    Provider, 47, 52

    Registrar, 92

    Speaker of the General Court, 92, 106

    Thanksgiving Day, first formal appointment, 48

    Trader, 47, 76, 79

    Toleration, 70, 96

    Verses, 100, 107

    Will, 100

Transcriber's Note:

Spelling and dialect has been retained as in the original
publication, except as follows:

    Page 16

    Ccrooby gathered awhile in a stone _changed to_
    Scrooby gathered awhile in a stone

    Page 21

    from his pious inclinations.
    from his pious inclinations".

    Page 29
    Reynold's ship sprang a leak
    Reynolds' ship sprang a leak

    Page 38
    village was laid out Januuary
    village was laid out January

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "William Bradford of Plymouth" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.