Bradford vs Morton Comparison

Bradfordvs Morton Comparison

“NewEnglish Canaan” and “Of Plymouth Plantation” focus on theexperiences and life of the Puritans during the time of the Plymouthcolony. While “New English Canaan” focuses on the experiences ofPuritans during the period with a perspective of an activist, areformer and writer, the “Of Plymouth Plantation” focuses on thePuritan lifestyle from the perspective of the leader of the colony.The Plymouth colony was a colony established in theMassachusetts&nbspareaof the modern United States in the 17thcentury. According to Franklinet al(138) the colony was governed by Puritans who had different socialperceptions and orientations of the people of the land.

Thediscussion in this paper will illustrate that the two accountsestablish their literary significance based on the differences in thecontexts and positions of the writers.


Inthe early colony of New England in the United States, colonized bythe English, William Bradford was the governor. Morton was a settlerin the same colony who stayed for three months and later deportedback to England as a prisoner due to his criticism of thecolonialists led by Bradford. To expose the shortcomings of thecolonist, the Puritans over the native Indians, Morton wrote the book“New English Canaan”. This was meant to inform fellow Englishmenin England on the situation and experiences of the natives in thehands of the colonialists. On the other hand, Bradford writes “OfPlymouth Plantation” as a way of gaining support from fellowcolonists and from England

Inaddition to revealing the differences in their literary presentationor rhetoric, the contrast Bradford and Morton also reveals moralquestions in relation to the life of the Puritans. The moralquestions presented by their works relates to practice of thecolonists and the endeavors of the colonial victims in the land(Burnham 421). The writers reveal the experiences of the Puritans andthe colonial domination they had on the Indians who were theaggrieved parties. From the perspectives of a lawyer, Morton presentsthe best account of the experiences of the Indian and argues theircase to his audience against the Puritans. However, from theperspective of the governor of the Puritans and the colonists,Bradford presents the case for the Puritans and argues their case ineffort of seeking justification for their domination and support fromthe audience.


Inthe description of the account of the Puritans and the experiences ofthe colony, the two writers adapt different thematic expressions andstyles. The two books take different aspects of literature because oftheir different contexts of writing. Despite focusing on the samecontent and historical period, the two pieces reflect theperspectives of the authors. The authors have different perspectivesbecause of the positions they held in the Puritan society. WhileMorton was a preacher and a strong reformer, Bradford was thegovernor of the Plymouth colony. This difference is reflected intheir literature as it describes their personal believes relating thecontext of the Puritans at the time.

Additionally,Morton was against the Puritans and was a vehemently unsympathetic tothe community. He was a thorn in the flesh of the colonist inPlymouth in New England. On the other hand, Bradford was a supporterof the Puritans in the Plymouth region and led them for thirty threeyears. Bradford was instrumental in the branching of the Puritansfrom the two main religious groups in the land, the Roman Catholicand the Church of England (McWilliams 19). Their branching wasmotivated by the feeling that the two churches did not follow whatthe Bible dictates of Christians to do and follow. However, Mortonwas a strong supporter and preacher for the Church of England, whichexplains his literary perspective over the life experiences of thePuritans.

Dueto his support of the Church of England, Morton’s writings aredifferent from those of Bradford. For instance, the 80 feet high MayDay that Morton hoisted in the coast was aimed at making sailorsidentify their town (Franklinet al139). For Morton’s followers, this was intended to promote identityand make it easy for people to mark their region. However, to thePuritans, this was an extreme of the religious practices championedby the Church of England (McWilliams 25). To them, this was ademi-god and had nothing to do with fun and enjoyment that thehoisted May Day was supposed to bring. This is an example of how theperspective of Morton was different from that of Bradford.

Thetwo accounts are telling different accounts about the life andexperiences of the Puritans at the time and cannot understand thebasis of each other’s thought. For an in-depth look at the writingof Bradford, it seems complete. This could be argued as the reasonwhy it was regarded as one of the most accurate and comprehensivestory on the life of the Puritans. However, the work of Morton doesnot seem to be complete. For instance, there seems to have discontentin his description of Captain Standish and how he was treated by thePuritans. This may be because of the concern of Morton was to presentthe truth of a land the he was not used to. Therefore, his writingseems to reflect his testimony of his dealings in the land ofPuritans before he was expelled from the colony.

Thedifferences between Morton and Bradford’s work are based on theirreference to the Puritans. Morton’s “New English Canaan” isbased on the non-Puritan point of view which makes it reflect theopponents` view of the events of the colony. On the other hand, theBradford’s work describes the events from a Puritan point of view.This makes the two pieces of literature important to an objectivereader to draw personal opinion based on the two accounts. Moreover,Morton tries to convince his countrymen in England of theshortcomings and the problems caused by the Puritans. Therefore, hisaccount was intended to arouse interest of his fellow Englishmen torise against the Puritan way of life.

Moreover,the differences are based on the intention of each of the writers inrelation to their relationship with the Puritans and the world.Morton was intending to use his skills as a lawyer and a writer tofight the practices of the Puritans. In addition, he used his beliefsas per the Church of England to criticize and condemn what thePuritans were doing. He was a reformer who intended to extend hisstay at the Puritan colony, but was deported back to England.Therefore, the only way he could retaliate and describe theshortcomings of the New England colonists was through his writings.On the other hand, Bradford was the leader of the Puritans forfifteen years. Therefore, the intentions of his writing were todefend his territory and his practices as a colonial leader.

Similaritiesof the two texts

Thetwo texts explore the same experiences of the Puritans in the kingdomof the new colony as the colonists sought to dominate their subjects.For instance, both Morton and Bradford describe the meaning and lifesignificance of the Maypole&nbspthatwas erected by cohorts of Morton. This became the ammunition theantagonism between the Puritans and the Morton’s followers.Bradford provides some criticism of the Maypole&nbspbyterming is as an attraction that makes women to go dancing around itas if it was a roman god (Bradford 127). On the other hand, Mortondescribes the same thing by presenting Maypole&nbspasa religious celebration of the Church of England.

Theaccounts of Morton and that of Bradford on the Puritans and thecolony all have religion at the same point of reference. In theirwritings against the opposing ideals, both Morton and Bradford usereligion as a platform of attacking each other’s ideologies andpractices. While Morton’s writing is informed of the beliefs andChristian practices of the church of England, Bradford‘s writingrefers to the religious separatist against the roman catholic churchand the church of England. This explains why religion and differentChristian beliefs were the main contexts of the differences that areexpressed by the writings of Morton and Bradford.

LiteraryElements and Styles

Mortonuses allegory as the main way of presenting his thoughts andadvancing his message in his writing on the colony of New England.His poems and stories presented by his writings are allegoricalbecause they had hidden religious, moral and political meanings. Thepoems are particularly understood to be allegorical of the strugglethat was experienced in the control of the land in the New Englandcolony (Burnham 423). The use of the allegory helped Morton toestablish an audience, both at home and among the Puritans. However,his allegorical message was directed to the Puritans and wascontained in the poems as a way of penetrating the audience. This wasachieved by leaving the audience to deduce the message from the poemsbased on their own experiences in the colonist territory.

Onthe other hand, Bradford applies rhetoric in the writing of “OfPlymouth Plantation”. He uses his rhetoric in amplifying God as hesought to express his religious inclination. He uses the writing andthe amplification of God as a way of reducing the reducing the impactof his mistreatment of the people. He presents his image as a good inorder to justify his actions and the fact that his colony shouldcontinue to exploit the natives. Through the magnification ofreligion, Bradford’s writings present an illustration of how peopleuse religion as a cover for their immoral and inhuman acts.

In“Of Plymouth Plantation,” Bradford presents a major irony andsatire in the way the Puritans viewed the native Indians. Bradfordwriting seeks to use religion and magnification of God to describetheir view of their subject in a religious matter. However, theactions of his government and the Puritans were different from theirmanifestation in his writing. They viewed the native Indians assavages and people who were not worth owning anything (Franklinet al123). Therefore, their domination and control of the land wasjustified as a way of establishing a colony in their land (Burnham423). Due to the exposure of this fact, Morton was arrested and sentback to England to be charged as and sentenced. This shows the ironyin Bradford’s work of invoking religion while he was not practicingreligion himself.

Alltogether, the work of Morton showed a similar margin of irony. He wasnot a strict religious person in terms of public perception. However,his works advocated for a course that seems to be religious whencompared to what Bradford tries to advance in his book. Despite beinga mild Christian, Morton’s writing presents his actions against theevils of domination of the Puritans at the expense of the Indians.Compared to Bradford, Morton is more religious in terms of practiceas opposed to talk and writing.


Thetwo writers present different accounts of the New England colony andthe Puritans. The two accounts record the viewpoints of the authorson the same historical and about the same people of the New Englandcolony in the United States. However, the writings had differencesthat describe their historical significance. The writings of Mortonaddress the problem and shortcomings of the Puritans as a reformerand a criticizer of the government. On the other hand, Bradford’swritings intended to defend the practices of the colony and present aresponse to Morton’s viewpoint. As a governor of the colonists,Bradford wrote from the viewpoint of a purist. On the other hand,Morton wrote from an outside view, trying to describe theshortcomings of the purist to the world, especially the Englishmen.


Bradford,William. Of Plymouth Plantation.New York: Capricorn, 1962. Print.

Burnham,Michelle. Land, Labor, and Colonial Economics in Thomas Morton`s NewEnglish Canaan. EarlyAmerican Literature. Vol.41, No. 3, 2006. Pp 405-428.

Franklin, W., et al. The NortonAnthology American Litteraure. Vol A 8th edition, NewYork: W W Norton, 2012.Print

McWilliams,John P. Jr. Fictions of Merry Mount. AmericanQuarterly,Vol. 29, No. 1, Spring 1977, pp. 3-30.

Morton,Thomas. NewEnglish Canaan.Scituate,MA: Digital Scanning Inc, 2000. Print

Rasmussen,Steve. ThePagan Pilgrim: Thomas Morton of Merry Mount.Web, Accessed, June 30,2014&lt