Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647

Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647

Book - 1998
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Random House, Inc.
“Bradford’s history is a story of a simple people inspired by an ardent faith to a dauntless courage in danger, a resourcefulness in dealing with new problems, an impregnable fortitude in adversity that exalts and heartens one in an age of uncertainty, when courage falters and faith grows dim. It is this story, told by a great human being, that has made the Pilgrim Fathers in a sense the spiritual ancestors of all Americans, all pioneers.” Thus Samuel Eliot Morison, the pre-eminent American historian in this field, in his Preface to this great American classic.

For the first time the printed text of Bradford’s history has been compared word for word with the original manuscript; for the first time the difficult abbreviations and contractions used by Bradford have been filled out and his archaic and variant spellings made uniform. This edition has double value: it presents Governor Bradford’s text in readable form and it provides contemporary readers with a history of that text and its enduring significance by the historian clearly elect to interpret it.

Baker & Taylor
The Pilgrim leader's classical account of the founding of the Plymouth colony and the events of its early years

Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1998, c1952
Edition: New ed
ISBN: 9780394438955
0394438957
Branch Call Number: 974.4 BRA
Characteristics: xliii, 448, xv p. : maps ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Morison, Samuel Eliot 1887-1976

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DWIGHT A GREEN
Mar 12, 2016

William Bradford’s "Of Plymouth Plantation" covers the Pilgrims during their move to Holland (starting in 1607 and 1608), briefly mentions the 1620 voyage to America, then covers annual events through 1646. Bradford’s work includes not just his history of the founding of Plymouth but documents (such as letters and treaties) involving the development of the colony.

Since Bradford was the governor of the colony for many of the years covered, his role in insuring safety and providing supplies merits special attention. Even though the book is written in the third person and often downplays his own role in events, Bradford proved to be an exemplary leader. The decision to make everyone responsible for growing and providing their own food insured adequate harvests after their initial communal system failed.

While Bradford appears to be a trustworthy fellow, I think it is important to keep in mind that there was a propaganda war centered on the colonies, a battle for how history was to be recorded and business interests awarded. Into these conflicts add the potential for disagreement or physical confrontation with the Indians. Bradford provides an interesting outlook toward the natives, usually focusing on contractual obligations.

Highly recommended.

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