Who is William Bradford?

WILLIAM BRADFORD, the first historian of Massachusetts, was the official successor of John Garver, the earliest governor of the Plymouth colony. He entered upon his duties as chief-magistrate a few weeks before the States-General of Holland chartered the Dutch West India Company, under whose auspices the province of New Netherland, as we have observed, was first settled by Europeans.

Bradford was a native of Ansterfield, Yorkshire, in the north of England, where he was born in the year 1588. His pecuniary circumstances were easy, when he followed persecuted Puritans to Holland and became fully identified with them in exile. From early life he had been accustomed to their teachings; and at the age of seventeen years, he attempted to fly to the Netherlands, with some others, whither their harassed brethren had gone. Betrayed, he was seized and imprisoned at Boston, in Lincolnshire, for awhile, but finally escaped and joined the fugitives at Amsterdam, where he learned the silk weaver's art and pursued it. On receiving his patrimony, he entered into unsuccessful commercial operations, and lost a greater portion of it. When the establishment of a free colony in America was projected at Leyden, he was one of the most zealous promoters of the measure; and he and his young wife were among the earliest emigrants to that land of promise. Before a site was selected for a settlement, and while the Mayflower was yet riding at anchor in Cape Cod Bay, Mrs. Bradford fell into the sea and was drowned. That was the first death among the Pilgrims after their arrival on the coast of America. Shrewd, wise, active, humane and generous, Bradford was very popular; and he was in the chair of state almost continually from 1621 until his death in 1657, a period of thirty-six years.

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