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“General History of Virginia” vs. “of Plymouth Plantation”

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Many people today are not aware of how the United States was started. Before the United States became a nation, it was just unknown land. It was only known of by the natives that lived there. Later it would be discovered by Europe, it quickly encouraged explorers to travel over to “The New World”. Some of these explorers, Captain John Smith and William Bradford, wrote about their experience of the new world. In Captain John Smith’s “General History of Virginia” and Governor William Bradford’s “Of Plymouth Plantation” there are many similarities and differences between the Indian relations, the motivations for each settlement, the writing style of each author, and the Divine Providence in both pieces. In Smith’s “General History of Virginia”, his relations with Natives was much worse than William Bradford’s in “Of Plymouth Plantation”. Smith gets captured and almost killed by the natives that he refers to as “barbarians” (pg. 74). William Bradford, however, was greatly helped by the Wampanoag Indians.

The Indians “directed them how to set their corn, where to take fish, and to produce other commodities” (pg. 84). William Bradford’s relationship with the Indians was much better then John Smiths was. The motives to come to the new world for both John Smith and William Bradford were both different. John Smith wanted to come to the new world to colonize Virginia. He was the president of the very first American colony Jamestown. William Bradford however came over for religious reasons. He “joined a group of Puritans who believed that the Church of England was corrupt” (pg. 70). John Smith wanted to rule and William Bradford wanted to escape the “corrupt” Church of England. John Smith was very full of him self, he thought of himself as a hero. In “General History of Virginia” he exaggerated things to make him look good. For example he describes him self with “good words, and fair promises” (pg. 74). Everything was written to make him seem like he was a brilliant man. William Bradford, however, wrote in Puritan Plain Style.

This style is very direct and to the point, without exaggeration. Unlike Smith’s writing, which is full of exaggerations. God played important roles in both of Smith and Bradford’s writing. God was mentioned a few times in Smith’s writing. “almighty God (by His Divine Providence) had mollified the hearts of those stern barbarians” (pg. 76). In this example smith thanked god for soothing the hearts of the Indians. God was mentioned many more times in Bradford’s “Of Plymouth Plantation”. God was thanks many times and was the whole reason why Bradford came to the new world in the first place. Smith and Bradford were both two very successful men.

They were both great leaders of early American colonies that left us their legends. While Bradford stuck to Puritan Plain Style, Smith tended to lean towards making himself look better. In both writings, both of the authors ended on good terms with the Natives, but Bradford was always an ally with them. God was mentioned in both of the stories but it’s clear Bradford was more religious. Finally John smith came to the new world to colonize Jamestown, while Bradford came to escape England’s churches. Each story was similar and different then the other one, but in the end Bradford’s is a bit more accurate.

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