Type: History
Pages: 3 | Words: 884
Reading Time: 4 Minutes

The United States is a relatively young country compared to ancient ones, yet it appears that even the most significant events of four hundred years ago have scarce historical coverage. It is not surprising though that not many writings give a detailed account of the first Pilgrims arrival and settling in the American land because survival in the new home became their main concern, rather than documenting their life. This makes Bradford’s writing “Of Plymouth Plantation” a unique evidence of history, which became a start for a new nation.

The document is in fact a journal that covers a period of about three decades and which was written by William Bradford, who was in charge of the colony during these years. In fact, the document is non-fiction writing and suggests that the first decades of Pilgrims who arrived in Mayflower were challenging. The main reason of their leaving England was religious disagreement because of Puritanism, which was considered heresy. Thus, the new settlers decision to leave their homeland and found a new colony in a far land was not a dream but to a large extent a forced decision. Yet, it apparently required the spirit of adventure and courage to take the step and the fact that they were religious people supported them in their trials. Yet, as Bradford witnesses, about half of all settlers died of deceases and cold.

Chapter 1 covers the reason why Pilgrims lefts England in details. As Bradford informs, he became part of Puritan community at the age of twelve, although his family did not support his decision. He also describes religious tension inside the British community, which was caused by split of the church. A considerable part of the chapter is devoted to describing the wrongness of the church as it was distorted by human’s excess ceremonies and devoid of simplicity. Puritans, in their turn, were seeking this kind of simplicity as a way of return to the roots of Christianity. Yet, authorities supported by the official church were not interested in development of the movement and persecuted its members. This became the main reason for relocation. As Bradford writes, “for some were taken and clapt up in prison, others had their houses besett and watcht night and day, and hardly escaped their hands; and the most were faine to fly and leave their houses and habitations, and the means of their livelihood”¦yet seeing themselves thus molested, [7] and that there was no hope of their continuance there, by a joint consent they resolved to goe into the Low-Countrys, where they heard was freedome of Religion for all men”.

Further on, the author describes the first impression of the new land, when the settlers arrived in Plymouth. He points out that the land was completely savage with no comfortable conditions to start a settlement from scratch. Moreover, it promised even more trials because there was no food supply. Yet, because of their unity, mutual support and faith they inspired each other to continue. In his writing, Bradford imagines their future descendants who would recollect them in centuries and praise them for their dignity: “Our fathers were English men which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this willdernes, but they cried unto the Lord, and he heard their voice, and looked on their adversity, etc.”.

Speaking about economics and social organization, the author points out that the decisions were mostly taken collectively but the property was not. Thus, it was decided that each person should grow corns for their own needs rather than having it for all. This encouraged people to work, even women and children were involved directly. Organization of work was not always easy because justice was necessary to support everyone, as people of different ages were present. Also, women would work for other men too, not only for their husbands, which was not an easy thing to persuade them to do. When other colonists arrived, there was a kind of a conflict between them, as well as with neighboring Indians. The problems about newcomers were their lifestyle and absence of faith, which resulted in inappropriate behaviors. Thus, Bradford mentions that they spent time with Indian women, drank alcohol and were going to get involved in slave trade. Their atheist views were highly unpleasant for the locals, which caused conflict. After Bradford’s death, the journal was kept by his family and passed over to Puritan church representatives a century later. During the war between the South and the North the paper was lost without any trace, and later it appeared to be part of London library archive. Yet, it was understood in the course of time that it presents a unique historical document, so in the end of the nineteenth century it was presented to the Governor of Massachusetts.

In conclusion, it should be noted that the journal presents an interesting historical account of the first settler lives, their beliefs, traditions and the hardships they had to face. It is important in the context of American history and formation of the nation, as well as in the context of Puritanism and its ethics. It is interesting that while not being much proud of his own work, Bradford turned it to further generations of descendants realizing that the nation would have future founded by him and his companions.

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