May 19, 2024

Hankering for History

Hanker: To have a strong, often restless desire, in this case for–you guessed it–history!

America of William Bradford or Thomas Morton?

2 min read

I do not usually do opinion pieces, however, the following was a question asked that I thought worth answering.

Does American culture exhibit more of the “spirit”of William Bradford or Thomas Morton?  Is it, metaphorically speaking, Bradford’s country, or Morton’s country?

William Bradford
William Bradford

When looking at the “spirit” of William Bradford and Thomas Morton, it is important to have an informed concept of each individual. William Bradford was a man who placed religion before everything else. As a teenager he would travel weekly, ten miles, to attend church-this was against the will of his guardians. Once the Separatists (those that believed that the Church of England was too far gone) decided to flee to a place where religious freedoms were tolerated, in 1608, William Bradford went with them.  Several years later, in 1620, the Mayflower made it to Plymouth and Bradford was shortly placed as the leader. Ironically, Bradford was not very tolerant of those that practiced other religions.

While I believe that America originally started out as Bradford’s country-as a country that was founded on and firmly placed its trust in God-it slowly evolved into a country based on the “spirit” of Thomas Morton.

Thomas Morton
Thomas Morton

Thomas Morton briefly traveled to the colonies in 1623; however, he was unhappy with the religious intolerance of the Puritans and only stayed three months. He returned on year later with ideas of capitalism. Morton became active in the lucrative, furs business and traded the American Indians rum and guns for their furs. The religious beliefs of Thomas Morton were not accepted by Bradford and the rest of the Pilgrims, so he was forced out. Based on sexual rumors and the fact that Morton erected a Maypole and heartily sang drinking songs, Bradford sent an army to chop down the Maypole and arrested Morton, sending him back to England. Time and time again he fought for what he believed in. (And I do mean time and time-Morton was sent from the New World back to England several times.) Whether it was the right to establish one’s own business, the freedom of religion, or the freedom of everyone to have the right to have access to guns, Morton persevered.

I believe that America, while originally acted in the “spirit” of William Bradford, is now acting like Thomas Morton. The country has slowly granted more rights and freedoms, both secular and spiritual. So maybe the question isn’t regarding which shows “more of the ‘spirit’ of William Bradford or Thomas Morton but when did the change its outlook from Bradford’s to Morton’s.

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