William Bradford joined the crusade for religious reform at age 12. •
In 1620, Bradford and his wife, Dorothy, left behind their four year old son to join nearly 40 other Separatists on the ship Mayflower. •
During the long, difficult journey to America, disagreements broke out among the group and Bradford took decisive action. He helped create the Mayflower Compact, often called the first U.S. Constitution. During his 30 years as governor, he continued to document the challenges of the growing colony, which owed its survival to his energy, vision, and expert diplomacy. •
His chronicle, Of Plymouth Plantation, is our best history of these adventurous times. •
He was inspired by the ideals of the Puritans, a Protestant religious group that wanted to purify the Church of England and create simpler, more democratic way to worship. By 17, Bradford had joined the radical Puritans known was Separatists, who called for a total break with the official church. •
Bradford was an effective in forging alliances with local Native American tribes such as the Wampanoag, a union of tribes led by Massasoit. The Wampanoag, who had lost 80% of their population to small pox shortly before the arrival of Pilgrims, was in need of help. So through this mutual need, Bradford and Massasoit were able to create a strong alliance that lasted throughout their lifetimes.
The purpose for the emigration of the Separatists from England dealt with religious freedom and the persecution of those who would not adhere to the corrupt philosophies and laws of the church at the time. Bradford’s history dispels many myths and misinformation about Plymouth Plantation, its relationships to the Native Americans and the Virginia Colony, and the events surrounding the Pilgrims’ first years in America. When the Pilgrims first arrived, the Native Americans would try to approach them but they would just run away. But in March, a certain Indian came boldly and...
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