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William Bradford Describes the Pilgrims' Exploration for Land to Settle—Journal

People keep journals to record interesting events that happen to them, as well as their thoughts and feelings. They often write in their journals every day. The words below are from a journal kept by the Pilgrims who came to New England on the Mayflower. Most of the journal was written by Edward Winslow, but the passages below appear to have been written by William Bradford. Both men were leaders of the Pilgrims.


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…on Monday [December 12, 1620] we sounded the harbor, and found it a very good harbor for our shipping. We marched also into the land, and found divers cornfields, and little running brooks, a place very good for situation, so we returned to our ship again with good news to the rest of our people, which did much comfort their hearts….

…[On December 19, 1620] we came to this resolution: to go presently ashore again, and to take a better view of two places, which we thought most fitting for us…. After our landing and viewing of the places, so well as we could we came to a conclusion…to set on the mainland, on the first place, on a high ground, where there is a great deal of land cleared, and hath been planted with corn three or four years ago, and there is a very sweet brook runs under the hillside, and many delicate springs of as good water as can be drunk, and where we may harbor our shallops and boats exceedingly well, and in this brook much good fish in their seasons; on the further side of the river also much corn-ground cleared. In one field is a great hill on which we point to make a platform and plant our ordnance, which will command all round about. From thence we may see into the bay, and far into the sea, and we may see thence Cape Cod. Our greatest labor will be fetching of our wood, which is half a quarter of an English mile, but there is enough so far off. What people inhabit here we yet know not, for as yet we have seen none….

Excerpt from Mourt's Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. London: 1622.


Background

For thousands of years, American Indians have lived in the eastern part of North America and used the natural resources there. European explorers first came to the area in the 1500s. In 1620, the first group of European settlers, the Pilgrims, arrived in Massachusetts. After a long journey over the Atlantic Ocean, they were happy to find land and excited to discover the natural resources available. William Bradford, a future governor of Plymouth, wrote about these experiences in a journal.