As a longtime member of a Puritan group that separated from the Church of England in 1606, William Bradford lived in the Netherlands for more than a decade before sailing to North America aboard the Mayflower in 1620. He served as governor of Plymouth Colony for more than 30 years, chronicling his experiences in a journal that became the authoritative account of the Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony.
"Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the fast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element."
"Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia."
After attempting to establish a communal form of society, the Plymouth Plantation found themselves destitute and starving with half of their population decimated after the first winter in the new world. Governor Bradford decided, then, to allocate parcels of land to the various families as private property that could be cultivated and utilized for the betterment of the individual family as well as the colony as a whole. The results were astounding and helped give rise to the first Thanksgiving, Brandford's words regarding this bounty were documented in his "History of the Plimoth [sic] Plantation."
"“By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God. And the effect of their planting was well seen, for all had, one way or other, pretty well to bring the year about, and some of the abler sort and more industrious had to spare, and sell to others, so as any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.”
[Converted into modern English]