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William Bradford and John Smith Essay

Although Captain John Smith (Jamestown) and William Bradford (Plymouth) held and wrote about similar positions in similar situations, they handled these situations differently. Not only did they come to the New World for different reasons, they also had different focuses when they wrote the histories of their respective colonies. Captain John Smith’s only apparent reason for coming over to the New World to settle was for the adventure that was sure to arise.

In his early days, he did a lot of fighting, capturing, and being captured. When the opportunity arose to settle in the New World, it was simply another front opening up. William Bradford, however, was one of the Puritans that came over to seek relief from the oppression that they faced in England. As early as his boy-hood, Bradford was interested in the Bible and became a Puritan even though his family discouraged it. While he, too, likely faced fighting, it was more that of fighting against the persecution that he was faced with in England. In the New World, however, both men did have to face natives that were not friendly to them.

While both men also wrote histories of their settlements, they had slightly different aims, as were reflected by their writing styles. One of Captain John Smith’s main objectives was to convince those people that were still in England that the New World was not a paradise with gold waiting to be dug up at every turn. He then, likely dramatized some of the accounts to portray his point more successfully. On the other hand, William Bradford simply was recording the history of his colony without any pomp.

It is interesting to note that Smith’s history was written in 3rd person, whereas Bradford’s was written in 1st person giving it a more honest ring. Also, in the passage in the book, Smith was more focused on his own part in the story than anybody else’s. Bradford’s history portrayed two things. The first was his strong background in the Bible, and the second was his concern for the well-being of the inhabitants of Plymouth. The second brought about a tone of frustration at the selfish acts of some of the men and gratitude for those who had been faithful in caring for him.

It is evident through examining the writing of the two men that they were unique in their motives for settling in the New World and for writing those settlements’ histories.

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