While still a youth and against family opposition he joined the non-conformist puritan cause in Scrooby led by William Brewster (one source states that Brewster was his adoptive father). The congregation emigrated to the Low Countries to escape persecution and eventually sailed to America on the Mayflower in 1620. Bradford was one of the leaders of the colony from the start, elected governor in 1621 and re-elected 30 times until he retired in 1645.
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