Reflections of John Winthrop and William Bradford


The writings of John Winthrop and William Bradford take on a puritan style, which reflects their motives and way of thought. Although these two leaders follow the same religious beliefs, there are minute differences in works that reveal each person’s true character and values. It is evident that Bradford’s writings are capable of showing dignity, practicality, compassion, humility, and endurance. Winthrop on the other hand attempts to write with high regards towards his self appointed power and dignity. He writes with intelligence, yet it only feeds his arrogance and ego. However his beliefs, like those of Bradford, are for the better of his society. They want a land where their people can live with morality and uphold their Puritan beliefs.


Bradford’s style of writing is similar to the Geneva Bible. He writes to try to get an overall view or perspective on things he observes. Mostly on a day to day basis, he writes to record his account of activities because he is aware of the historical significance that he and his people live in. On one incident, a Mr. Roger Williams is welcome to the town and even the church. After some time, he finds himself disagreeing with the church and catches himself in some controversy. Bradford writes, “I shall not need to name particulars,” meaning he chooses not to mislabel Mr. Williams and says, “he is pitied and to be prayed for . . .[and] I hope he belongs to the Lord, and that He will show him mercy.” Throughout his records, he is constantly writing about the great things God does to help them. For example, when they first land in the North America, he speaks of how the men are “ready to perish in the wilderness; but they cried unto the Lord, and He heard their voice,” and he continues to praise with, “His mercies endure forever.” Their new life in this land makes them comparable to the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage.


Winthrop structures his writings with authority, and often approaches situations with harshness. His reasoning towards the harshness is because as a Magistrate to God, he has a certain respectability and responsibility to uphold. He feels that a man must be responsible for governing of others, and must possess the skill to uphold his “faithfulness,” or “he must answer for it.” Winthrop views Mr. Roger Williams’s actions as evil when he says, “the devil was not idle,” declaring that Mr. Williams acts with intentions of the devil. Naturally he feels there is little room for mistakes because they can cause major threats or inconveniences to their society. Upon the harshness given to Mrs. Hutchinson, Winthrop’s writing shows no mercy for her falling out of the church and regards her as a seductress where he describes the followers of her as “many poor souls, who had been seduced by her.” These subtle statements in his writings show his ideas he places on women and the roles they should lead.


Both men are respectable leaders of their time, and both try to be as true to their religion as possible. Winthrop is a man of strength, who seeks swift and proper justice, however unfair or crude it may be. Bradford on the other hand is a man who is more compassionate, and feels everyone must find God, even if they are troublesome. Although having the same traditional values and coming from the same time period, Bradford and Winthrop take on characteristics that undoubtedly show their true nature and persons in their writings.