Biography of William Bradford (1590-1657)

Writer and Anglo-American politician born in March 1590 in the town of Austerfield (Yorkshire) and died a 9 may 1657 in Plymouth (Massachusetts). Governor of the Plymouth Colony for 30 years, helped to form and stabilize the political institutions of the first permanent colony in New England. Bradford also left a newspaper of inestimable value, that recounts the adventure of the so-called "Pilgrims", in which he/she himself took part.

As a child, in England, it was swept away by the fervor of the Protestant movement and became a leading member of the separatist Church, the "left wing" of Puritanism, only 12 years old. Seven years later he/she joined a group of hipsters who migrated to Holland (1609) in search of religious freedom. Dissatisfied with the economic opportunities in that country, he/she collaborated to organise an expedition of about 100 "pilgrims" to the new world in 1620. Aboard the ship, Bradford was one of the forgers of the historic Mayflower Pact, agreement for voluntary civil co-operation that made possible the founding of the Government of Plymouth. The following year he/she was unanimously elected as Governor of the new world and re-elected by 30 legislatures, playing always the office except for an interval of five years until 1656.

Bradford is remembered mostly for its contribution to promoting the newly released democratic institutions of the colony, based on openness and popular assemblies, establishing those traditions of autonomy that would lay the groundwork for national political development in years to come. Although called himself "congregational", rejected any sectarian label and tried to welcome all separatist groups to the shores of New England. In addition, he/she found a way to integrate non-believers in the life of the colony.

In his book Mourt's relation (Mourts Relation, 1622), discovered certain language, sensual, a deep commitment to the tangible; He/She is a man for whom the "beautiful small galerna" that begins the voyage of the Mayflower means a lot. In comparison, his history of the plantation of Plymouth (Of Plimmoth Plantation, 1630-1650), widely recognized as the masterpiece of American literature of the seventeenth century written in English language, seems charged with the onerous weight of the intangible. It is the only source of details and detailed descriptions of the journey by sea and the hardships and challenges that had to face the settlers. Bradford described the history of his group as a constant struggle with the demon and defended that the best possible instrument in that battle was the Church, a congregation of the "people of the Lord, gathered in a Church-State, in the community of the Gospel, to walk in all his ways, known or as yet unknown, according to their best efforts, it will cost what it cost", with the assistance of the Lord".

The work is composed in two different moments: the first, which begins in 1630, has the arrival to the wildlands of Massachusetts, so far that the settlers "began to build the first House for common use that accommodate them and their property"; the second book, beginning in 1646, is related to the emergence of some surprising signs that seemed to suggest that the colony was losing their identity, for example, the depravity of the colony of Merrymount, where Thomas Morton "became the Lord of misrule, and maintained a kind of school of atheism". Morton, meanwhile, offered a very different version of the facts in his work Canaan Neo-Inglesa, 1637, because he/she was "fuller humanity" Indians to their Christian neighbors.

Bradford did not conclude his story. He/She stopped writing, without more, because apparently could not find you already sense the history that had been counting, and it was impossible to continue seeing the hand of God among so many disappointments.


Bradford Smith, Bradford of Plymouth (1951), biography.