New England: a Matter of Perspective

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New England: A Matter of Perspective

John Smith's A Description of New England and William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation both present a picture of the same pre-colonial land of New England. Mr. Smith's writing, out of necessity, painted a rosy picture of the new land, while Bradford's historical account shows early New England was not Heaven on Earth. Mr. Bradford and Mr. Smith are writing about one land, but they present two different accounts of the life in the land.

John Smith's writing is his ideal vision of what the new land could be with the best of people colonizing the new land. John Smith's fine piece of literature may also be considered a beautifully worded, finely tuned piece of propaganda. Mr. Smith wrote this selection to influence people to leave their lives in England and cross the globe to start a new life in a strange land. John Smith described a a land where little work was needed, and riches could be easily acquired. A man with little fishing ability could catch one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred fish a day. He tells of animals perfect for hunting that give plenty of food to live on, and rich furs that could be traded for money. Mr. Smith declares the land free, so anyone could come to the New World and accumulate great wealth. John Smith envisioned a land where all men would live in peace and harmony, a vision that would not be fulfilled in New England or any of the New World.

William Bradford's history of the Pilgrims, in Of Plymouth Plantation, sheds a uniquely different light on life in colonial New England. Bradford's account depicts many hardships that had to be overcome by the Pilgrims, before their ideal land began to take shape. Bradford describes arriving in New England in the late fall as fatal for many of the Pilgrims. The first winter took its toll on the colonists. Forced to live on the boat, many people died of scurvy or starved. When they finally were able to stay on land, they found the Indians...
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