William Bradford

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Bradford, William,

1590–1657, governor of Plymouth Colony, b. Austerfield, Yorkshire, England. As a young man he joined the separatist congregation at Scrooby and in 1609 emigrated with others to Holland, where, at Leiden, he acquired a wide acquaintance with theological literature. Bradford came to New England on the Mayflower in 1620 and in 1621, on the death of John CarverCarver, John,
c.1576–1621, first governor of Plymouth Colony. A wealthy London merchant, in 1609 he emigrated to Holland, where he soon joined the Pilgrims at Leiden.
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, was chosen leader of the Pilgrims. He remained governor for most of his life, being reelected 30 times; during the five years in which he chose not to serve, he was elected assistant. Bradford, though firm, used his large powers with discretion, and there were few complaints about his leadership. He maintained friendly relations with the Native Americans and struggled hard to establish fishing, trade, and agriculture. He stressed the obligations of the colonists to their London backers and was one of the eight colonial "undertakers" who in 1627 assumed Plymouth Colony's debt to the merchants adventurers. Given a monopoly of fishing and trading privileges, they finally discharged the debt in 1648. Bradford was more tolerant of other religious beliefs than were the Puritan leaders of Boston (although he was by no means consistent in this respect), and he was largely responsible for keeping Plymouth independent of the Massachusetts Bay colony. His famous History of Plimoth Plantation, not published in full until 1856, forms the basis for all accounts of the Plymouth Colony. The editions of W. T. Davis (1908), W. C. Ford (1912), and Samuel Eliot Morison (1952) are the best.

Bibliography

See also G. F. Willison, Saints and Strangers (1945); biography by B. Smith (1951).


Bradford, William,

1663–1752, British pioneer printer in the American colonies. Born in Leicestershire, England, he served an apprenticeship under a London printer before emigrating in 1685 to Philadelphia, where he set up the first press. He added a bookstore in 1688 and was in 1690 one of the founders of the first paper mill in the colonies. He was arrested for printing a pamphlet critical of the Quaker government; his trial, at which no verdict was reached, was probably the first in the United States involving freedom of the press. Bradford moved (c.1693) to New York City where he became royal printer and issued some 400 items in the next 50 years, including the first American Book of Common Prayer (1710), some of the earliest of American almanacs and many pamphlets and political writings. In 1725 he began publication of the royalist New York Gazette, the first New York newspaper. Many of his descendants, including Andrew BradfordBradford, Andrew,
1686–1742, colonial printer of Pennsylvania, b. Philadelphia; son of William Bradford (1663–1752). Andrew learned the trade in his father's shop in New York City and in 1712 went to Philadelphia, where he established his own press and became a
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 and William BradfordBradford, William,
1722–91, American Revolutionary printer and patriot; grandson of William Bradford (1663–1752). He learned printing from his uncle, Andrew Bradford, in Philadelphia, and in 1742 he set up his own shop.
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, became printers.

Bradford, William,

1722–91, American Revolutionary printer and patriot; grandson of William Bradford (1663–1752). He learned printing from his uncle, Andrew Bradford, in Philadelphia, and in 1742 he set up his own shop. He established the successful anti-British Weekly Advertiser, which competed for many years with Benjamin Franklin's newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette. He also printed a number of books and published (1757–58) the American Magazine and Monthly Chronicle. In 1754 he established the London Coffee House in Philadelphia; this became the seat of the merchants' exchange. Bradford opposed the Stamp Act and took an active part in opposition to British measures, becoming a leader of the Sons of Liberty. He advocated and became official printer to the First Continental Congress. Sacrificing his business, he became a major in the Continental Army and took part in the campaign in New Jersey. At Princeton he was badly wounded and his health shattered. His son, Thomas Bradford (1745–1838), carried on the business and published the Merchants' Daily Advertiser.

Bibliography

See J. W. Wallace, An Old Philadelphian (1884).

Bradford, William

(1590–1657) Pilgrim leader; born in Yorkshire, England. He came from a yeoman family. Although he was not formally educated, he began to read the Bible at age 12, and he joined a separatist congregation (which met at William Brewster's house). He emigrated to Holland (1609–20) before coming to America on the Mayflower. He signed the Mayflower Compact, helped to select the location of the Plymouth colony, and was the first elected governor in 1621. He was re-elected thirty times in the next thirty-five years. It was largely because of his honesty, diligence, and administrative ability that the colony survived its difficult early years. He wrote the History of Plimoth Plantation, 1620–1647, which gave ample evidence of the moral steadfastness and resolve of the early Pilgrims and ensured their place in American history and folklore.

Bradford, William

(1663–1752) printer; born in Leicester, England. Emigrating to Pennsylvania in 1685, he set up the first colonial printing press outside New England and the first colonial paper mill; moving to New York, he founded that colony's first paper, the New-York Gazette, in 1725.