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This volume will be found to contain an authentic History of the Pilgrim Fathers who planted the Colony . of Plymouth, from their origin in John Robinson's con
gregation in 1602, to his death in 1625, written by themselves. Some account of the nature of these Chronicles, and of the circumstances which led to their compilation in this form, may not be unacceptable to the reader.
It is well known to those who are familiar with the early history of New England, that William Bradford, the second governor of Plymouth, wrote a History of that People and Colony from 1602 to 1647, in 270 folio
pages; which was used by Morton in compiling his Memorial, by Hutchinson in writing his History of Massachusetts, and by Prince in digesting his Annals of New England. The manuscript of this valuable work, being deposited with Prince's library in the tower of the Old South Church in this city, disappeared in the War of the Revolution, when this church
was occupied by the British troops, and has long since been given up by our historians as lost. The most important part of this lost History I have had the good fortune to recover. On a visit at Plymouth, a few years since, I found in the records of the First Church a narrative, in the hand-writing of Secretary Morton, which, on comparing it with the large extracts in Hutchinson and Prince, I recognised as the identical History of Governor Bradford; a fact put beyond all doubt by a marginal note of Morton at the beginning of it, in which he says, “ This was originally penned by Mr. William Bradford, governor of New Plymouth.” This fact of the real authorship of the document seems to have escaped the observation of all who had preceded me in examining the records, such as Judge Davis, Mr. Bancroft, and even of Hazard, who attributes it expressly to Nathaniel Morton.” Hazard copied and printed the larger part of it, as a work of Morton's, in his valuable collection of State Papers, though in a very incomplete and inaccurate form, not being able always to decipher the cramped and abbreviated characters in which it is written, and being frequently obliged to leave blank spaces in his page.
By comparing the second chapter in this volume with the first article in Hutchinson's Appendix, ii. 449 – 451, which he quotes from Bradford, it will be found that they agree nearly word for word.
· The extracts in Prince are too numerous to be referred to; the principal are on pages 114, 120, 129, 130, 140-145, 147, 155, 160.
• Hazard's State Papers, i. 349.
By the favor of the Plymouth Church I was permitted to make a new transcript of this very important paper, the entire accuracy of which has been secured by its careful collation with another copy made by the Rev. William P. Lunt, of Quincy, who kindly favored me with the loan of it. The value of this document depends upon its authorship, and cannot be over-estimated. It takes precedence of every thing else relating to the Pilgrims, in time, authority, and interest. It will be found to contain a detailed history of their rise in the north of England, their persecutions there, their difficult and perilous escape into Holland, their residence in that hospitable land for twelve years,
the causes which led to their emigration, and the means which they adopted to transport themselves to America.
The next document is Bradford's and Winslow's Journal of the first settlement of the Colony, containing a minute diary of events from the arrival of the Mayflower at Cape Cod, November 9, 1620, to the return of the Fortune, December 11, 1621. This document joins on to the former, making a continuous narrative. It was printed in London in 1622, with a Preface signed by G. Mourt, and has since been usually cited as Mourt's Relation. It will be seen from the notes on pages 113 and 115 of this volume, that Mourt was probably George Morton, the father of Nathaniel, the Secretary, then resident in England, that he had no
hand in writing the Journal, but that it was actually written by Bradford and Winslow, a circumstance which gives to it new value and interest, and confers on it the highest authority. In 1625 this Relation was abridged by Purchas, and printed in the fourth volume of his Pilgrims. This abridgment, comprising only about half of the original, and abounding with errors, was reprinted in 1802 in the eighth volume of the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. In 1822, after an interval of twenty years, the portions omitted by Purchas were reprinted in the nineteenth volume of the same Collections, from a manuscript copy of the original edition, made at Philadelphia. The transcriber, however, omitted some important passages, and committed many errors in copying. The parts of the work being thus disjointed, and printed in separate volumes, rendered the reading of it extremely difficult and repulsive. The present is the only correct and legible reprint that has been made since the appearance of the original in 1622.
The third paper is Robert Cushman's Discourse, delivered at Plymouth in November, 1621, reprinted from an old copy in the library of the American Antiquarian Society.
The fourth document is Edward Winslow's Relation, entitled “Good News from New England,” which takes up the narrative where it was left off by the former Journal, and brings it down to September 10, 1623.
This book was printed in London in 1624, was abridged by Purchas in the same way as the former Relation, was reprinted in the same fragmentary manner by the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1802, and the omissions in a separate volume in 1922. It is now reprinted for the first time entire, and in a legible form, from the original London edition, for which, as well as for the original of Bradford's and Winslow's Journal, I am indebted to the rich library of Harvard College.
Next in order is Edward Winslow's - Brief Narration of the true grounds or cause of the first planting of New England," which was printed at London in 1616, at the end of his Answer to Gorton. No copy of this rare book is known to exist in this country. The manuscript from which I print was kindly copied for me by the Rev. George E. Ellis, of Charlestown, from the printed volume in the British Museum. In this paper we have the original of Robinson's celebrated farewell address to the Pilgrims at Leyden, and several facts relating to them not recorded elsewhere.
The sixth paper is a Dialogue, written by Governor Bradford, which has never before appeared in print. A fragment of it, written with his own hand, I found among the manuscripts in the cabinet of the Massachusetts Historical Society; but the entire work I obtained from the records of the First Church in Plymouth, into which it was copied by Secretary Morton.