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The colonial period in American literature was rich in valuable ideas the authors of which are regarded as the founders of the American ideal. One of such writers was William Bradford, whose political and creative activities and writings are still relevant nowadays.
The greatest contribution of this statesman and author was the foundation and description of the first colony. This work was described in the book Of Plymouth Plantation, and it was considered an enormous achievement both by Bradford’s contemporaries and ancestors (Sargent 389). The relevance of Bradford’s ideas is revealed in the modern system of building political relationships as well as in the notions of patriotism and righteousness (Moran 44). Back in the colonial period, Bradford established these issues in his literary works, and even nowadays, his ideas have not lost their essence and value.
Bradford’s ideas of colony life were the first ones, but they were quite successful. Probably the most valuable of them, which are rather crucial for present-day life, were the notions of such democratic institutions as town meetings and franchise. Those were the initial attempts of establishing the life of a society in a way that would be comfortable for everyone. Nowadays, democracy plays an important role in people’s lives, too.
It is quite uncomfortable to live in a state of dictatorship, where a common citizen has no right to express his or her preferences and live by them. Because of Bradford’s ideas, it became possible for the modern U.S. society to exist in the way it does. Democracy offers a large number of advantages to people, such as the possibility to select their political leaders and participate in the major decisions upon which their lives depend. The themes raised in Bradford’s works helped the next generations to develop and improve their political and patriotic beliefs.
The idea of franchising was another asset among Bradford’s accomplishments. This notion was closely related to the religious arrangements in the Plymouth settlement. Bradford was a very religious person, and it was important to him that his subordinates could express their beliefs freely. Thus, even though he was a Pilgrim, he acknowledged the influence of Puritans on his worldview (Moran 44).
Franchising was established in Plymouth churches, where the majorities (Separatists or Congregationalists) did not prevent the minorities (Presbyterians) from the free expression of their faith. This idea is especially relevant to modern life since there is a large variety of churches in the world, in general, and in the USA, in particular.
Because of Bradford’s initiatives, it became possible for present-day religious institutions to function while co-existing peacefully. People can choose what church to attend, and they are not prosecuted if their choice does not coincide with the majority. Thus, it is possible to conclude that literary contributions made by Bradford had a positive effect on the formation of modern society. The notion of the American ideal was partially conceived in Bradford’s works, which makes this author’s legacy a valuable part of U.S. history and literature.
Moran, Eugene V. A People’s History of English and American Literature. Nova Science Publishers, 2002.
Sargent, Mark L. “William Bradford’s “Dialogue” with History.” The New England Quarterly, vol. 65, no. 3, 1992, pp. 389-421.