William Bradford (March 1590 - May 9, 1657) was the governor of the Plymouth colony for 30 years.
Bradford fled England when he was 17 years old and, along with other persecuted Pilgrims, went to Holland. When he was 30, he sailed to America with the other Pilgrims on the Mayflower, and he helped draft the Mayflower Compact. The Pilgrims elected him governor in 1621. He was so popular that he was reelected 30 more times, until his eventual death.
He wrote the leading book about the Pilgrim settlement, History of the Plymouth Plantation (1650), in which, he said:
Since ye first breaking out of ye lighte of ye gospell in our Honourable Nation of England ... what warrs and opposissions ... Satan hath raised ... against the Saints ... by bloody death and cruell torments ... imprisonments, banishments ... What could now sustaine them but ye spirite of God and His grace? ... Ought not the children of these fathers rightly say: Our fathers ... came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this wilderness; but they cried unto ye Lord, and He heard their voyce. ... All great and honourable actions are accompanied with great difficulties ... Out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing ... and, as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation; let the glorious name of Jehovah have all the praise.
- Bradford, William History of Plymouth Plantation (1856 edition)