In September of 1620, 102 passengers and 30-40 crewmembers left England in a small vessel to escape religious persecution and establish a home in the colony of Virginia. Conditions were harsh, and not all aboard made it to the new world alive. Strong gale forces and unrelenting cold weather pushed them northward, keeping them from their Virginia destination. In November, after three months at sea, the crew spotted land and they anchored at Cape Cod. William Bradford, one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact that day, lamented, ““All great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage” (Good Reads, 2014). The Mayflower party would experience a great loss of life as they were unprepared for the harsh New England winter. However, their perseverance laid the cornerstone of a new nation. The Pilgrims' courage, gratitude to God, and love for one another still inspire people today. Bradford is but one of many historically important people who came to America for freedom to practice religion and enjoy better economic conditions. Through Puritan persecution, Anne Hutchinson would become the first woman to be bound for trial for her religious beliefs, while long persecuted Catholics would seek refuge in George Calvert and his petition to bring Catholicism to Maryland. The right to religious liberty was fought for at a great price. This guarantee is a sacred heritage that should be valued by all Americans, and its importance should never be made weak or devalued.
The Pilgrims Refusal to Compromise their Beliefs
Most of the colonies that would become the United States of America following the American Revolution, were founded on principles of deeply religious men and women. The new world was seen as a bastion of freedom for those wanting to practice their faith without fear of persecution. Unlike today, religion and government were seen as interdependent and a requirement to ensure a just and moral society. The colonists wholeheartedly supported their leaders to create “a city on a hill” based upon religious beliefs and practices (Library of Congress, 2014). Bradford, and most Pilgrims, were members of a Puritan sect known as the Separatists. They believed belonging to the Church of England violated the bible’s law for true Christians. Therefore, they concluded their continued association with the Church of England was treasonous to God and separation from their mother country was their only option (Plymouth Plantation, 2014).
William Bradford: Writer and Politician
As one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact, an agreement for voluntary civil cooperation that became the foundation of the Plymouth government, Bradford holds the distinction of helping to transform Plymouth into a productive colony. He was chosen for this distinction as well as for his important historical place in the birth of what would become the United States of America. Bradford was born in 1590...