||Bradford, William, 1588-1657
||Bradford's History 'Of Plimoth Plantation'
||Bradford, William. Bradford's History 'Of Plimoth Plantation.' From the Original Manuscript. With a Report of the Proceedings Incident to the Return of the Manuscript to Massachusetts. Printed under the Direction of the Secretary of the Commonwealth. (Boston: Wright & Potter Printing Co., State Printers, 1898). Pages i-lxxviii, 1-555.
||645 / 11
William Bradford (1588-1657) was born in England, and in 1609 he
joined a group of nonconformist Protestants who sought religious
freedom in Holland. From there, Bradford helped prepare for the
“pilgrime” expedition to create a separatist religious colony in
America. "Plimoth Plantation" was established in 1620,
and Bradford was chosen as governor after the death of the colony's
first leader, John Carver, in 1621. He was reelected twenty times
and served as its leader for much of the rest of his life.
Bradford’s 1620 Expedition and Plymouth Colony
Bradford journeyed with several dozen religious nonconformists
to America on the Mayflower, along with other passengers, servants,
merchants, and a handful of adventurers. Bearing around one-hundred
colonists, the ship arrived in Cape Cod Bay on November 11, 1620,
near modern Provincetown, an area occupied by the Nauset Indians.
Soon after arrival, an advance party raided several caches of Nauset
corn and beans, prompting the local tribe to attack them. On December
16, 1620, the colonists, who had been shipbound since leaving Holland,
sailed across Massachusetts Bay from Cape Cod and disembarked at
About half the English died of starvation, disease, or exposure
in the first four months. The survivors elected Bradford governor
in 1621, and despite early conflicts with their Native American
neighbors, Bradford established peaceful relations with Massasoit,
the chief of the neighboring Wampanoags. During the colony’s early
years, factional splits divided the colonists, until in 1627 Bradford
and a majority bought out the original stockholders.
The economy of Plymouth, based on shared agriculture, depended
on good relations with neighboring tribes. This was usually effected
through trade and diplomacy, and the Indians taught the English
how to successfully grow local crops such as pumpkins, corn and
beans. Relations with other English non-religious colonies, such
as those formed under Thomas Weston at Wessagusset and under Thomas
Morton at Mount Wollaston, or Merrymount, were problematic. In 1628,
Miles Standish and men from Plymouth drove out Morton and his men
for providing guns and alcohol to the Indians, and for “frolicking”
In 1630, another English religious settlement was founded in Boston
as the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and an influx of Puritans began
to pour into New England from the mother country. Plymouth achieved
solid financial footing, entering into trade with settlers in New
Holland at Manhattan and the Hudson Valley, and conducting regular
trips back to England to exchange furs for money, goods, and supplies.
Of Plimouth Plantation provides a detailed, firsthand account
of the Mayflower voyage, the establishment of Plymouth Colony, relations
with various Indian communities, exploration of surrounding areas,
including Maine, and the daily life of New England’s first settlers.
Bradford’s manuscript appears to have been written at various times
between 1620 and 1647. It disappeared from Boston during the American
Revolution and was discovered in London in 1855. It was first published
in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society
in 1856. The edition presented here preserves Bradford’s original
spelling and punctuation. The standard modern edition is: Morison,
Samuel Eliot, ed., Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647 (New
York: Knopf, 1952).
Other Internet and Reference Sources
Other first-hand accounts of Plymouth on the web can be found in:
Rhys, Ernest, ed., Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers, at
and background on the Mayflower voyage and Plymouth Colony is available
the official web site of Plimoth Plantation.