The Bradford manuscript is the single most complete authoritative history of the Pilgrim life and travels from 1608-1647. Gov. Bradford, the second governor of the Plymouth Colony and architect of the Mayflower Compact, chronicled nearly three decades of the Pilgrims experiences. It follows the journey of the English Separatists to Holland and then on to the Plymouth Colony aboard the Mayflower. It tells of their difficult arrival, in which half of their expedition perished during the first six months, and records their first encounter with the Native Americans. In fact, this book is how we have come to know about the first Thanksgiving.
Although Bradford never attempted to publish the manuscript, he did intend for it to be preserved and read by others:
"The book was rit by Govener William bradford and given to his son mager William Bradford And by him to his son mager John Bradford. rit by me Samuel bradford mach 20, 1705."
"But major Bradford tells me and; assures me that He only lent this Book of his Grandfather's to Mr. Sewall ; that it being of his Grandfather's own hand writing He had so high a value of it that he would never Part with ye Property, but would lend it to me; desired me to get it, which I did; write down this that sd Major Bradford and his Heirs may be known to be the right owners."
This Thanksgiving is Brad's birthday. He once owned a copy of The History of Plymouth Plantation (current name of manuscript) which we had purchased in Plymouth, MA. The book was destroyed in a fire , so I thought I'd replace it for him this year. Just think, if this manuscript had not been found, he wouldn't be getting this present for his Thanksgiving/birthday. Nor would we he be able to share this written heritage with his sons. That is something to be thankful for! And while we are on the subject . . . Gov. Bradford recorded the fact that my own ancestor, John Howland, fell off the Mayflower and almost drowned. If he hadn't been rescued, I wouldn't be here blogging about it!