William Bradford Books

Franklin Library William Bradford books:
Of Plymouth Plantation - 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature - 1983


Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647
The most important and influential source of information about the Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony, this landmark account was written between 1630 and 1647. It vividly documents the Pilgrims' adventures: their first stop in Holland, the harrowing transatlantic crossing aboard the Mayflower, the first harsh winter in the new colony, and the help from friendly Native Americans that saved their lives.

No one was better equipped to report on the affairs of the Plymouth community than William Bradford. Revered for his patience, wisdom, and courage, Bradford was elected to the office of governor in 1621, and he continued to serve in that position for more than three decades. His memoirs of the colony remained virtually unknown until the nineteenth century. Lost during the American Revolution, they were discovered years later in London and published after a protracted legal battle. The current edition rendered into modern English and with an introduction by Harold Paget, remains among the most readable books from seventeenth-century America.

Of Plymouth Plantation is the detailed first-hand account of the founding of Plymouth Colony and the day to day activities of the lives of its colonists. It covers the years 1608 from when the Puritans fled England to the Netherlands to the early 1650's when Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut held the cities and civilizations of both the colonist and the native American tribes.

Written by William Bradford, the 2nd governor of Plymouth Plantation (settlement), it recounts the harrowing time at sea the passengers of the Mayflower and Speedwell faced on the way to the New World in the late autumn season of 1620. Originally on route to an area around the mouth of the Hudson River, the stormy Atlantic Ocean yielded the Mayflower only as far south as Cape Cod, where the Pilgrims first came to shore at what is now Provincetown. Finding the dunes and windswept landscape unsuitable and without game they sailed the Mayflower southwest to the native American Wampanoag tribe settlement known as Patuxet, where 3,000 native Americans lie dead and unburied, killed by the Great New England plague of 1615 that wiped out 90% of the natives along the coast from Maine down to Rhode Island. Not one Wampanoag was left to survive or even bury their dead along shore at the once bustling Patuxet.

At Plymouth, the Pilgrims came to shore on a skiff and stepped foot onto the land of Massachusetts for the first time. Governor William Bradford's journal goes on to chronicle the hardships, loneliness, death, and political calculations and alliances that had to be made amid the various native Indian tribes of the Wampanoag, Narragansett, Pequot, Massachusetts, Nipmuc, and other native inhabitants of what would eventually become known as New England. Gut wrenching, bold, provocative, it is the true story of the founding of the nation you have never been told.

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