William Bradford (1590-1657)
Biography: Born in Yorkshire, England, William Bradford was one of the first "pilgrims" to sail across the Atlantic on the Mayflower and settle in Plymouth, Massachusetts. As a teenager Bradford left his family home for Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, where he joined a small community of religious believers who had "separated" from the Church of England. Because English law considered it an act of treason to choose a "particular" over the "national" church, the Scrooby community moved: first to Holland, then to the New World. Bradford was elected governor of the new colony, a position he held until the last five years of his life. He composed two History volumes, the first of which was preserved in the Plymouth church records, the second of which was considered lost until located in the bishop of London's home. The latter manuscript was published in 1856 and returned to the United States by ecclesiastical decree in 1897, where it was deposited in the State House in Boston. Of Plymouth Plantation (excerpt)
Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the fast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element. And no marvel if they were thus joyful, seeing wise Seneca was so affected with sailing a few miles on the coast of his own Italy, as he affirmed, that he had rather remain twenty years on his way by land than pass by sea to any place in a short time, so tedious and dreadful was the same unto him. But here I cannot but stay and make a pause, and stand half amazed at this poor people's present condition; and so I think will the reader, too, when he well considers the same. Being thus passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before in their preparation (as may be remembered by...