William Bradford Biography

William Bradford (1590-1657) was elected governor of the Plymouth Colony after the death of the previous governor, John Carver. Born in Yorkshire, England, Bradford joined a group of Puritan extremists, who called themselves Separatists, and moved to Holland with them to escape religious persecution in England. In 1620, Bradford and others boarded the Mayflower with the intent to settle in Virginia. Bradford maintained friendly relations with area natives because the Pilgrims could not have survived without their help. But certainly the customs and beliefs of the Pilgrims and the Wompanoag differed.

The Pilgrims indebted themselves to a group of Englishmen known as "merchant adventurers." The "merchant adventurers" agreed to risk their money, and the Pilgrims agreed to invest their personal labor for seven years. Bradford insisted that the Pilgrims meet their obligations to the investors, and in 1627, he and seven others bought out the merchants. Although more lenient than others about varying religious beliefs, he was responsible for keeping Plymouth independent of the Massachusetts Bay colony. He wrote "History of Plymouth Plantation" over a twenty year period, 1630-1650, but it was not published in its entirety until 1856. The "History of Plymouth Plantation" was written in Puritan Plain Style which accounts for its simple language.

Related Resources

Excerpt from "History of Plymouth Plantation"
Activities for Bradford's "History of Plymouth Plantation"

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