Home  »  A Library of American Literature  »  “Bradford’s and Winslow’s Journal”: The Landing of the Pilgrims and Their Settlement at Plymouth

Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

“Bradford’s and Winslow’s Journal”: The Landing of the Pilgrims and Their Settlement at Plymouth

By Edward Winslow (1595–1655) and William Bradford (1590–1657)

HAVING the wind good, we sailed all that day along the coast about fifteen leagues; but saw neither river nor creek to put into. After we had sailed an hour or two, it began to snow and rain, and to be bad weather. About the midst of the afternoon the wind increased, and the seas began to be very rough; and the hinges of the rudder broke, so that we could steer no longer with it, but two men, with much ado, were fain to serve with a couple of oars. The seas were grown so great that we were, much troubled and in great danger; and night grew on. Anon, Master Coppin bade us be of good cheer; he saw the harbour. As we drew near, the gale being stiff, and we bearing great sail to get in, split our mast in three pieces, and were like to have cast away our shallop. Yet, by God’s mercy, recovering ourselves, we had the flood with us, and struck into the harbour.

Now he that thought that had been the place, was deceived, it being a place where not any of us had been before; and coming into the harbour, he that was our pilot, did bear up northward, which if we had continued, we had been cast away. Yet still the Lord kept us, and we bare up for an island before us; and recovering of that island, being compassed about with many rocks, and dark night growing upon us, it pleased the Divine Providence that we fell upon a place of sandy ground, where our shallop did ride safe and secure all that night; and coming upon a strange island, kept our watch all night in the rain upon that island. And in the morning we marched about it, and found no inhabitants at all; and here we made our rendezvous all that day, being Saturday, 10th of December. On the Sabbath day we rested; and on Monday we sounded the harbour, and found it a very good harbour for our shipping. We marched also into the land, and found divers cornfields, and little running brooks, a place very good for situation. So we returned to our ship again with good news to the rest of our people, which did much comfort their hearts….

Some of us, having a good mind, for safety, to plant in the greater isle, we crossed the bay, which is there five or six miles over, and found the isle about a mile and a half or two miles about, all wooded, and no fresh water but two or three pits, that we doubted of fresh water in summer, and so full of wood as we could hardly clear so much as to serve us for corn. Besides, we judged it cold for our corn, and some part very rocky; yet divers thought of it as a place defensible, and of great security. That night we returned again a shipboard, with resolution the next morning to settle on some of those places.

So in the morning, after we had called on God for direction, we came to this resolution, to go presently ashore again, and to take a better view of two places which we thought most fitting for us; for we could not now take time for further search or consideration, our victuals being much spent, especially our beer, and it being now the 19th of December. After our landing and viewing of the places, so well as we could, we came to a conclusion, by most voices, to set on the main land, on the first place, on a high ground, where there is a great deal of land cleared, and hath been planted with corn three or four years ago; and there is a very sweet brook runs under the hill side, and many delicate springs of as good water as can be drunk, and where we may harbour our shallops and boats exceeding well; and in this brook much good fish in their seasons; on the further side of the river also much corn-ground cleared. In one field is a great hill, on which we point to make a platform, and plant our ordnance, which will command all round about. From thence we may see into the bay, and far into the sea; and we may see thence Cape Cod. Our greatest labor will be fetching of our wood, which is half a quarter of an English mile; but there is enough so far off. What people inhabit here we yet know not, for as yet we have seen none. So there we made our rendezvous, and a place for some of our people, about twenty, resolving in the morning to come all ashore and to build houses.

But the next morning, being Thursday, the 21st of December, it was stormy and wet, that we could not go ashore; and those that remained there all night could do nothing, but were wet, not having daylight enough to make them a sufficient court of guard, to keep them dry. All that night it blew and rained extremely. It was so tempestuous that the shallop could not go on land so soon as was meet, for they had no victuals on land. About eleven o’clock the shallop went off with much ado with provision, but could not return, it blew so strong; and was such foul weather that we were forced to let fall our anchor, and ride with three anchors ahead.

Friday, the 22d, the storm still continued, that we could not get a land, nor they come to us aboard….

Saturday, the 23d, so many of us as could went on shore, felled and carried timber, to provide themselves stuff for building.

Sunday, the 24th, our people on shore heard a cry of some savages, as they thought, which caused an alarm and to stand on their guard, expecting an assault; but all was quiet.

Monday, the 25th day, we went on shore, some to fell timber, some to saw, some to rive, and some to carry; so no man rested all that day. But, towards night, some, as they were at work, heard a noise of some Indians, which caused us all to go to our muskets, but we heard no further. So we came aboard again and left some twenty to keep the court of guard. That night we had a sore storm of wind and rain.

Monday, the 25th, being Christmas day, we began to drink water aboard. But at night the master caused us to have some beer; and so on board we had divers times now and then some beer, but on shore none at all….

Thursday, the 28th of December, so many as could went to work on the hill, where we purposed to build our platform for our ordnance, and which doth command all the plain and the bay, and from whence we may see far into the sea, and might be easier impaled, having two rows of houses and a fair street. So in the afternoon we went to measure out the grounds, and first we took notice how many families there were, willing all single men that had no wives to join with some family, as they thought fit, that so we might build fewer houses; which was done, and we reduced them to nineteen families. To greater families we allotted larger plots; to every person half a pole in breadth, and three in length; and so lots were cast where every man should lie; which was done and staked out. We thought this proportion was large enough at the first, for houses and gardens to impale them round, considering the weakness of our people, many of them growing ill with colds; for our former discoveries in frost and storms, and the wading at Cape Cod had brought much weakness amongst us, which increased so every day more and more, and after was the cause of many of their deaths.


Monday, the 8th of January, was a very fair day, and we went betimes to work. Master Jones sent the shallop, as he had formerly done, to see where fish could be got. They had a great storm at sea, and were in some danger. At night they returned with three great seals, and an excellent good cod, which did assure us that we should have plenty of fish shortly.

This day Francis Billington, having the week before seen from the top of a tree on a high hill a great sea, as he thought, went with one of the master’s mates to see it. They went three miles and then came to a great water, divided into two great lakes; the bigger of them five or six miles in circuit, and in it an isle of a cable length square; the other three miles in compass, in their estimation. They are fine fresh water, full of fish and fowl. A brook issues from it; it will be an excellent place for us in time. They found seven or eight Indian houses, but not lately inhabited. When they saw the houses, they were in some fear; for they were but two persons, and one piece.

Tuesday, the 9th of January, was a reasonable fair day; and we went to labor that day in the building of our town, in two rows of houses, for more safety. We divided by lot the plot of ground whereon to build our town, after the proportion formerly allotted. We agreed that every man should build his own house, thinking by that course men would make more haste than working in common. The common house, in which for the first we made our rendezvous, being near finished, wanted only covering, it being about twenty foot square. Some should make mortar, and some gather thatch; so that in four days half of it was thatched. Frost and foul weather hindered us much. This time of the year seldom could we work half the week….

Saturday, the 17th day, in the morning, we called a meeting for the establishing of military orders among ourselves; and we chose Miles Standish our captain, and gave him authority of command in affairs. And as we were in consultation hereabouts, two savages presented themselves upon the top of a hill, over against our plantation, about a quarter of a mile and less, and made signs unto us to come unto them; we likewise made signs unto them to come to us. Whereupon we armed ourselves and stood ready, and sent two over the brook towards them, to wit, Captain Standish and Steven Hopkins, who went towards them. Only one of them had a musket, which they laid down on the ground in their sight, in sign of peace, and to parley with them. But the savages would not tarry their coming. A noise of a great many more was heard behind the hill; but no more came in sight. This caused us to plant our great ordnances in places most convenient….

Saturday, the 3d of March, the wind was south, the morning misty, but towards noon warm and fair weather. The birds sang in the woods most pleasantly. At one of the clock it thundered, which was the first we heard in that country. It was strong and great claps, but short; but after an hour it rained very sadly till midnight.

Wednesday, the 7th of March, the wind was full east, cold, but fair. That day Master Carver, with five others, went to the great ponds, which seem to be excellent fishing places. All the way they went they found it exceedingly beaten, and haunted with deer; but they saw none. Amongst other fowl they saw one, a milk-white fowl, with a very black head. This day some garden seeds were sown.

Friday, the 16th, a fair warm day towards. This morning we determined to conclude of the military orders, which we had begun to consider of before, but were interrupted by the savages, as we mentioned formerly. And whilst we were busied hereabout, we were interrupted again; for there presented himself a savage, which caused an alarm. He very boldly came all alone, and along the houses, straight to the rendezvous; where we intercepted him, not suffering him to go in, as undoubtedly he would out of his boldness. He saluted us in English, and bade us “Welcome!” for he had learned some broken English among the Englishmen that came to fish at Monhiggon, and knew by name the most of the captains, commanders and masters, that usually come. He was a man free in speech, so far as he could express his mind, and of a seemly carriage. We questioned him of many things; he was the first savage we could meet withal. He said he was not of these parts, but of Morattiggon, and one of the sagamores or lords thereof; and had been eight months in these parts, it lying hence a day’s sail with a great wind, and five days by land. He discoursed of the whole country, and of every province, and of their sagamores, and their number of men and strength. The wind beginning to rise a little, we cast a horseman’s coat about him; for he was stark naked, only a leather about his waist, with a fringe about a span long or little more. He had a bow and two arrows, the one headed, and the other unheaded. He was a tall, straight man, the hair of his head black, long behind, only short before, none on his face at all. He asked some beer, but we gave him strong water, and biscuit, and butter, and cheese, and pudding, and a piece of mallard; all which he liked well, and had been acquainted with such amongst the English. He told us the place where we now live is called Patuxet, and that about four years ago all the inhabitants died of an extraordinary plague, and there is neither man, woman, nor child remaining, as indeed we have found none; so as there is none to hinder our possession, or to lay claim unto it. All the afternoon we spent in communication with him. We would gladly have been rid of him at night, but he was not willing to go this night. Then we thought to carry him on shipboard, wherewith he was well content; and went into the shallop; but the wind was high and the water scant, that it could not return back. We lodged him that night at Steven Hopkin’s house, and watched him.

The next day he went away back to the Masasoits, from whence he said he came, who are our next bordering neighbours. They are sixty strong, as he saith. The Nausites are as near, southeast of them, and are a hundred strong; and those were they of whom our people were encountered, as we before related. They are much incensed and provoked against the English; and about eight months ago slew three Englishmen, and two more hardly escaped by flight to Monhiggon. They were Sir Ferdinando Gorge’s men, as this savage told us; as he did likewise of the huggery, that is, fight, that our discoverers had with the Nausites, and of our tools that were taken out of the woods, which we willed him, should be brought again; otherwise we would right ourselves. These people are ill affected towards the English by reason of one Hunt, a master of a ship, who deceived the people and got them, under color of trucking with them, twenty out of this very place where we inhabit, and seven men from the Nausites, and carried them away, and sold them for slaves, like a wretched man (for twenty pound a man,) that cares not what mischief he doth for his profit.

Saturday, in the morning, we dismissed the salvage, and gave him a knife, a bracelet, and a ring. He promised within a night or two to come again and to bring with him some of the Massasoyts, our neighbours, with such beavers’ skins as they had to truck with us.

Saturday and Sunday reasonable fair days. On this day came again the savage, and brought with him five other tall, proper men. They had every man a deer’s skin on him, and the principal of them had a wild cat’s skin, or such like, on the one arm. They had most of them long hosen up to their groins, close made, and above their groins to their waist another leather; they were altogether like the Irish trousers. They are of complexion like our English gipseys; no hair or very little on their faces; on their heads long hair to their shoulders, only cut before; some trussed up before with a feather, broad-wise, like a fan; another a fox tail, hanging out. These left (according to our charge given him before) their bows and arrows a quarter of a mile from our town. We gave them entertainment as we thought was fitting them. They did eat liberally of our English victuals. They made semblance unto us of friendship and amity. They sang and danced after their manner, like antics. They brought with them in a thing like a bow-case (which the principal of them had about his waist,) a little of their corn pounded to powder, which, put to a little water, they eat. He had a little tobacco in a bag; but none of them drank but when he liked. Some of them had their faces painted black, from the forehead to the chin, four or five fingers broad; others after other fashions, as they liked. They brought three or four skins; but we would not truck with them at all that day, but wished them to bring more, and we would truck for all; which they promised within a night or two, and would leave these behind them, though we were not willing they should; and they brought us all our tools again, which were taken in the woods, in our men’s absence. So, because of the day, we dismissed them so soon as we could. But Samoset, our first acquaintance, either was sick or feigned himself so, and would not go with them, and stayed with us till Wednesday morning. Then we sent him to them to know the reason they came not according to their words; and we gave him a hat, a pair of stockings and shoes, a shirt, and a piece of cloth to tie about his waist.

The Sabbath day, when we sent them from us, we gave every one of them some trifles, especially the principal of them. We carried them, along with our arms, to the place where they left their bows and arrows; whereat they were amazed, and two of them began to slink away, but that the other called them. When they took their arrows we bade them farewell, and they were glad; and so, with many thanks given us, they departed, with promise they would come again.