William Bradford's well-known work Of Plimouth Plantation is a detailed history in manuscript form about the founding of the Plymouth colony and the lives of the colonists from 1621 to 1646 and draws deep parallels between everyday life and the events of the Bible. It is a retrospective account of Bradford’s recollections and observations, in which he brings the account of the colony's struggles and achievements. The accounts are balanced expressing both his confidence in the Pilgrim mission and revealing his dismay and disappointment. Bradford’s writings are deeply personal and honest, yet confusing because of what they do not contain. For example, his first wife died while he was away on an expedition into the wilderness and he never mentions even her name in all of his known writings.
Bradford’s works are valuable because they are among the earliest known works written by American colonists and they give the reader an account of America’s earliest historical events. Plimouth Plantation is considered the first successful colony even though it was not the first. Bradford’s stories opened a window into the opportunities and hardships offered to those who had the courage to journey to the new world.
Bradford did not write specifically to make money. His writings were published just one year before his death. Without the careful details that Bradford recorded, we would not have the Mayflower Compact because the original Compact did not survived. The reliable Bradford, of course, made a true copy. This act alone makes Bradford an important and valuable historian of the new world.