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Story of Establishing the Plymouth Colony by Pilgrims: Analytical Essay

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Bradford narrates the story of establishing the Plymouth Colony by Pilgrims who arrived in America in 1620 and the subsequent history of the Colony. His work focuses on showing how the success (as well as failure) of Puritans occurs according to God’s will. Additionally, he emphasizes how the Pilgrims’ faith plays a role in setting up a Godly settlement that allows them to live by their own beliefs. Particularly, the Pilgrims’ deep faith is the message Bradford intends to pass through his work and how he wishes the Pilgrims to be remembered. This is evidenced by the fact that Bradford describes the repercussions those who don’t adhere to the ideals of the faith face.

William Bradford describes a proud and profane young man in the voyage to Cape Cod who constantly is complaining about the sick people the Mayflower is carrying. Bradford composes that the young fellow wishes to toss them over the edge. Alternately, the young fellow ends up wiped out, and the malady executes him. As an issue of incongruity, he turns into the first to be incorporated over the edge. They trust that the infection is God’s anger on the young fellow because of his hasty disposition, that is, ‘his revile light on his owned head.’ Additionally, on touching base in Cape Cod, the Pilgrims dread both the locals and the untamed life. Bradford portrays the locals as ‘savage brutes’ who want to convey bolts and withdraw from sides as opposed to invite them with sustenance and a safe house. Here, Bradford’s frame of mind towards the neighborhood individuals is apparent. Instead of valuing their qualities and practices, he accepts the most exceedingly terrible of them. In addition, William Bradford’s works accentuate religion. Especially, when on board Mayflower, Bradford alludes to the ‘will of God’ as the main factor that decides the accomplishment of the voyage. Likewise, he portrays that to live beyond words the voyage relies upon the desire of God.

Bradford himself trusted in straightforward and plain living for he expected that being well off will occupy a person’s consideration from God. Likewise, amid the voyage, Bradford depicts the Puritans as exceptionally religious people who depended upon God to rebuff those profane and glad. All things considered, they trust that God intercedes at pivotal minutes. Additionally, Bradford’s work depicts Puritans as individuals with other conscious and delicate identities just as less judgmental and corrective when contrasted with those from different provinces, for example, Massachusetts Bay. Another behavior that Bradford’s works encourage is endurance. For instance, despite little understanding of the savages, cold, and lack of food during the first winter, the Puritans never gave up. Moreover, since their arrival gave little room to adjust for the climatic change and prepare well for the winter, Bradford’s work discusses that they had to endure with the current situation. Additionally, in the voyage, they faced many illnesses, but that did not make them shun away from their goal of reaching America. On the other hand, Bradford’s work discourages religious oppression. His work explains the way Puritans were threatened, arrested, tortured and even persecuted for going against the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England. They splintered away so that they would return to the true norms of the Bible and Christianity. There move was not welcomed by the other denominations and therefore they sailed to America to escape the religious oppression.

Generally, the literature work is the history of life in earlier colonial New England, and since it is the only work addressing the place and time in history, then it implies that Bradford’s “Of Plymouth Plantation” is influenced by a historical event. The historical event also spans spiritual history. For example, the title of Chapter one is “History of Plymouth Plantation” and subsequently, several paragraphs of the Chapter present the spiritual history of England. His initial phrase, “But that I come more near intendment,” acts as a reminder that he intends to tell the history of the Pilgrims. Overall, Bradford’s work is of the individuals committed to their faith. His work plays a crucial role in promoting spiritual inspiration both in colonial and present America. Additionally, he sets the foundation for the establishment of the present American society and culture. Moreover, his literature plays a huge role in shaping the American literature studied in schools. He writes the journal between 1620 and 1647 during the period when colonialism is taking roots in America, and new colonies are developing.

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The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop, the third edition by Edmund S. Morgan, chronicles the development of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Morgan provides considerable detail about Winthrop, explaining why he became governor of the growing colony, a position set upon him due to substantial political pressure. As detailed in the book, Winthrop met many internal and external conflicts regarding the success of the colony. However, it is the overall social, economic, and political aspects of the colonial life he lived that led the “Puritan experiment” to be a success. Winthrop faced human imperfection among his fellow colonists and the threat of differing religious beliefs that nearly tore the colony apart, yet challenged each with an ability to overcome, in hopes of perfecting his religious community.

Originally occupied by Puritans, and led by a remarkably zealous man John Winthrop, the Massachusetts Bay Colony was created as a holy experiment. The colony developed under Winthrop’s careful eye, and colonists were held to the highest standard of religious perfection, under the scrutiny of the strict laws of Puritanism. Any town members of differing beliefs were often sent away and disallowed from the privileges other colonists had. These social standards set the precedent for many incomers, making it clear the colony was a haven for the single belief of Puritanism. Colonists were even policed to a point. “Families became little cells of righteousness where the mother and father disciplined not only their children but also their servants”. No sin went ignored or unpunished, as assured by Winthrop, who dealt with human imperfections and flaws with the power of the law, and by religious word, simply condemning them all together in hopes that colonists would strive for better. Politically, standards correlated with governors and other leaders were often elected and put into positions of power based off their religious prowess and presence. Although the colony suffered economically at its birth, many colonists were unprepared for the harsh climate and terrain, the colony did eventually see economic success and growth. They focused mainly on the trade of furs, lumber, and fish. With a stable economy and strictly religious political and social standards set into place, the colony boomed. The only looming threat remained that of separatism, a belief like Puritanism, the key difference being that followers renounced the church of England, rather than claiming to reform it by colonizing elsewhere.

Winthrop dealt with Separatists swiftly and harshly. “Though he never hesitated to strike down sin, he was keenly aware that Massachusetts was endangered more by separatist zeal than by worldly wickedness… The argument, admonition, and patience were the most effective weapons against it” (Morgan, p. 107). Winthrop knew the dangers of separatism, and that the colony would split if its ideologies continued to spread. His main contender was Roger Williams—a selfless, God-loving, and stubborn man that inhibited the very soul of separatist zeal itself. Williams felt no attachment to Old England, as many Puritans did, including Winthrop. As such, separatism was simply banned. Many separatists dissented as such, and others left to live in more tolerant colonies, as is the case with Roger Williams and his wife, Anne Hutchinson. When combined, these social, political, and economic factors that relied heavily on trade and centered around strict religious ideals led to a booming society, in which Puritans ruled, led by John Winthrop, a pioneer to creating the religious haven then known as the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

John Winthrop ruled with a strict mindset, focused on eliminating the many personal, internal, and external conflicts surrounding the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Of these conflicts, most colonists were impacted. External conflicts, such as taxes imposed by the British and other “intolerable acts” of the time plagued the town, and many others like it. A prime example is the Tea Act of 1773, which taxed imports of tea, causing a financial burden among the poor populous of the colony (“The Tea Act | Boston Tea Party Facts | 1773”). Others would include King Phillip’s War, lasting from 1675 to 1676, which resulted from external tensions and conflicts with surrounding native peoples. As the Puritans expanded their territory, natives grew uneasy resulting in the war and further complications (Khan Academy). Internal conflicts in the colonies revolved more around local affairs and concerns. Winthrop addressed most of these as issues with the Puritan faith and regarded colonists by how dedicated to the religion they were. For instance, separatism was a growing internal issue within the colony. Winthrop continued his trend of religious intolerance, sending separatists away from the Massachusetts Bay Colony to keep his town holy, and to his standards. As sinners were on the rise, Winthrop used his power to regulate the lives of colonists. He made sure everybody was monitored by family or friends in their own home, and all sins were reported and punished swiftly. It was as these conflicts and issues developed that John Winthrop had been elected as governor for the town. He was thrust into the position, rather than having asked for it. “But he seems not to have expected that he would be that man, even though he was eligible for the office”. Winthrop expected to lead and help shape the colony, yet not at this magnitude of power. He was nominated out of four potential candidates and was enthralled with the prospect of the power to make change; whereas, his ability to govern and impact religious institutions in England was limited, wherein the new colonies, power was ripe. Winthrop was driven by a motivation to reform England’s churches and give it the push it needed. He knew that corruption in England was overwhelming, and instead planned to spread the church, reforming it outside of England. His argument was that he would offer the Puritan religion to those who had never been given access to it before, such as Natives. Most important to his success in maintaining the colony was likely the zeal he had in keeping it religiously upkept. If Winthrop had neglected the sins of the colonists or allowed separatists to flock, the town could have been divided and muddled, increasing the negative aspects of the town, and even splitting it politically and religiously. Winthrop’s desire to have a perfect haven for Puritans is what allowed the town to thrive, under his strict and careful rule. As such, Winthrop met the challenge, heading directly to the Massachusetts Bay Colony to make the religious, “city on a hill” he had always desired, overcoming many conflicts and sources of pressure in doing so.

John Winthrop was truly a pioneer in molding the Massachusetts Bay Colony, with critical detail to every aspect of its society. Through many conflicts, developed internally or found externally from places aside from the colony, Winthrop was willing to face each one. The colony faced financial burdens and social and religious intolerance, and even corrupt politics in that leaders were all tied to churches. However, Winthrop, with his own set of morals, worked to ensure the political, social, and economic growth of the town. The Massachusetts Bay Colony, nearly torn by separatism and the impurity of many human flaws was kept sewn together by Winthrop and his fellow leaders. Winthrop may have not immediately set his sights on the position of governor, yet the challenge was met well in his hands, as he strived and toiled to create the religious image of a holy city. The Massachusetts Bay Colony thrived under his guidance, succeeding mainly in part due to his work toward maintaining all aspects of the society and colony life involved.


  1. William Bradford. ‘History of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647.’ The American Historical Review 18.3 (1913): 595. Web.
  2. Mele, Bryan M. Magliocca Marie. The Massachusetts Bay Colony,
  3. Morgan, Edmund Sears. The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop. 3rd ed., Pearson Longman, 2007.
  4. 4. Boundless. “Settling New England.” Settling New England | Boundless US History,
  5. ‘Puritan New England: Massachusetts Bay (Article).” Khan Academy,
  6. “The Tea Act | Boston Tea Party Facts | 1773.” For more information about the Boston Tea Party,

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