In August 1620, 102 English Separatists set off in the Mayflower for New England.
These men, women and children, who became known as the Pilgrims, would found the Plymouth Colony.
They had to survive harsh winters, poor harvests, disease and famine in the early years of their new settlement.
These struggles were only exacerbated by conflicts they had with other English settlements, French settlers and against Native Americans.
But they persevered in what has become one of the most iconic periods in the history of the United States.
William Bradford, who was Plymouth Colony Governor five times for a period of nearly thirty years, recorded a detailed history of this settlement and the lives of its colonists in his Of Plymouth Plantation.
Charles F. Richardson stated that this work was a “forerunner of literature” and that Bradford was “a story-teller of considerable power.” Moses Coit Tyler called him “The father of American history.”
This account is a fascinating history of seventeenth century colonial America, that takes the reader on a year-by-year journey through the highs and lows of the colony from before it began in 1608 through to 1646.
Never published during his lifetime the manuscript disappeared until 1780 when it appeared in England, probably stolen by the British in the American Revolution. It was then published in the nineteenth century. This edition, edited by Harold Paget, has been rendered into modern English so it much more readable than the original seventeenth century version and was first published in 1920.
William Bradford eventually died in Plymouth in 1657, where a stone monument exists in memory of his life.