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William Bradford of Plymouth   By:

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[Illustration: Copyright by A. S. Burbank, Plymouth, Mass. BIRTHPLACE OF WILLIAM BRADFORD. AUSTERFIELD, ENGLAND.]

WILLIAM BRADFORD OF PLYMOUTH

BY

ALBERT H. PLUMB

[Illustration]

BOSTON RICHARD G. BADGER THE GORHAM PRESS

COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY RICHARD G. BADGER

All Rights Reserved

Made in the United States of America

The Gorham Press, Boston, U. S. A.

TO ALL DESCENDANTS OF

WILLIAM BRADFORD

AND TO ALL WHO ADMIRE THIS LEADER OF NEW ENGLAND'S FOUNDERS THIS CONCISE AND UNPRETENTIOUS RECORD OF HIS LIFE AND ACTS IS

DEDICATED

IN THE HOPE THAT BY HIS EXAMPLE WE MAY BE INSPIRED AND STRENGTHENED, THE BETTER TO DO OUR OWN PART IN NOBLE LIVING AND IN PRIVATE AND PUBLIC ACHIEVEMENTS

PREFACE

It is a pleasing task to record afresh the life course of one of those whom the poet Whittier characterized as "the noblest ancestry that ever a people looked back to with love and reverence."

The leading authorities, particularly the Pilgrim narrators themselves and those more nearly contemporary with them, have contributed to this biography. Though early Plymouth events and the career of Bradford are inseparably connected, the colonial history is here limited and made subservient to the personal consideration, with regret that there do not appear more obtainable data of this nature. Undoubtedly the Governor's modest reticence largely accounts for this. We can only be thankful that we have what we have.

ALBERT H. PLUMB.

CONTENTS

PAGE

I THE BOY 11

II THE PILGRIM 23

III THE GOVERNOR: EARLY DUTIES 41

IV THE GOVERNOR: LATER ADMINISTRATION 61

V THE GOVERNOR: LAST ACTS 89

WILLIAM BRADFORD OF PLYMOUTH

I

THE BOY

Earth's transitory things decay, Its pomps, its pleasures pass away; But the sweet memory of the good Survives in the vicissitude.

J. BOWRING.

The world has nothing more worthy of our regard than its unconscious heroes. Though many can discern their own true importance, a peculiar charm invests such as do not realize it, even if they are told. They seem to think others would have done better in their place, and they lightly estimate their services, at less than their fellow men accredit them. His ideal of duty captivates the doer more than his own agency therein. The noblest men are made by the contemplation of their models. Like the great Apostle, they are not disobedient unto the heavenly vision. Among earth's worthies, modest and unconscious of greatness, there stands the figure of William Bradford.

We find him first as a native of Austerfield, England, on the south border of Yorkshire. There is no official record of his birth. But in addition to his own declaration of age when first married, the clearly legible record of his baptism, March 19, 1589, would indicate that by the modern calendar he was born in 1590. The garments worn by him at the chapel March 19 29, being a short white linen covering and mitts which came for exhibition to Essex Institute in Salem, Massachusetts, are the apparel of a small babe.

The affirmation of Bradford, as a man thoroughly established in his integrity and his accuracy of statement, this declaration in the important matter of his marriage contract when he was required to subscribe his own signature, must be accepted as more weighty than the opinions given by others regarding his age in later years of his life, and the posthumous inscription placed long afterward on his monument. It is unlikely that he was consulted about his age, for any future epitaph, since even the necessary making of his will was deferred to the day of his death. Not long before his nuptials on December 10 20, 1613, he averred that he was twenty three; and, supposing an error of his quite improbable here, our conclusion appears justified that he was born in 1590 by the Gregorian calendar... Continue reading book >>




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