William Bradford was born to an influential and wealthy English family in 1590. In his childhood, Bradford had to endure the loss of several of his close family members. His father died when he was barely a year old and his mother died when he was seven years of age.
It is claimed that his lack of close family bonds may have led to the development of his determined personality later in life. For example, his joining the nonconformist religious group, which would later be referred to as the Pilgrims, may have resulted from this. Throughout his life, Bradford exhibited a resolute personality in what he believed in.
Since both his parents had passed away, Bradford went to stay with his uncles who had the intention of him helping them on their farm. However, because of his sickness he was unable to work and turned to reading spiritual books. This also played a critical role in the development of his intellectual inquisitiveness and his ultimate liking of the Separatist congregation.
When Bradford was twelve years old, a friend introduced him to a separatist congregation who believed that the Church of England needed strict reforms so as to do away with every vestige practice of the Catholic church. Consequently, in search of religious freedom, the group, together with Bradford, relocated to Holland in August 1608 (Doherty, 26).
After living there for about eleven years, the Separatists, with the assistance of Bradford, planned for the Mayflower’s voyage to America in 1620. In order to restructure the movement into a political body, he assisted in the formulation of the Mayflower Compact en route to the New World. Upon arrival, he assisted in choosing the best site for the establishment of the colony.
One year after arrival, he was unanimously given the responsibility of serving as the colony’s governor (Bradford and Davis, 10). He held that position for thirty years between 1621 and 1656. “His remarkable tact, honesty, and political ability proved indispensable in assuring the colony’s survival, and he helped avert numerous potential disasters.
He was instrumental in establishing and fostering the principles of self-government and religious freedom that characterized later American colonial government” (“Mayflower Compact,” para. 2). The success he had in the leadership position was largely due to his resolute personality.
Even though Bradford did not have adequate training in formal education, he had a native literary capability that made him write a number of books. His most renowned literary work is Of Plymouth Plantation, which was an elaborate description in manuscript form of the events that took place in the early years of the establishment of the Colony.
The book was published in 1865, two hundred years after his death. Received well by his contemporaries, the book demonstrates his determined confidence in the Pilgrim Mission (Bradford and Morison, 3).
Besides this, he also wrote poems, which mostly criticized the self-interest of the new generation. Bradford’s Dialogues, written in the form of conversations between the old and the young people, are a dramatization of his thoughts concerning the differences between the old and the new generation.
In conclusion, Bradford demonstrated a resolute personality throughout his life. He was part of the persecuted separatist congregation who fought for religious freedom. His position as one of the longest serving Plymouth governors was successful because of his unwavering character traits. In addition, his literary works also testify of this.
Bradford, William, and Davis, William T. Bradford’s history of Plymouth Plantation, 1606-1646. Chestnut Hill, Mass. :Elibron Classics, 2005. Print.
Bradford, William, and Morison, Samuel E. Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647. New York : Knopf, 2006. Print.
Doherty, Kieran, William Bradford: rock of Plymouth. Brookfield, Conn. : Twenty-First Century Books, 1999. Print.
“Mayflower Compact.” C-Span. American Writers. 2010. Web. 27 Oct. 2010.