Originally, Freedom: William Bradford and the American Pilgrims was supposed to be two or three episodes. As I read William Bradford’s manuscript and the other primary sources, it quickly became apparent we would need more episodes to do this story justice. But I didn’t anticipate just how many! Freedom ended up becoming 13 episodes, and over six hours of historical drama; it featured some top voice actors from around the world and won three Seneca Awards, including the best long-form audio drama of 2021. One special part of the process for me was reading through the scripts with my mom, Joanne Bultman, who gave wonderful feedback and also ensured we gave an accurate portrayal of King James English. Darby Kern also assisted with the script, adding some fun lines and ideas. Freedom is the result of a team effort of some gifted and talented individuals and the financial support of some generous people. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to retell the story of these Pilgrims and early Native Americans in a fresh way. I pray we honored their memory through this production.
Freedom covers a range of issues we face in our day – religious freedom, conviction, pandemics, race relations, the free market, communism & capitalism, etc… King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that “there is no new thing under the sun.” I am personally inspired by how these people dealt with age-old questions in a thoughtful and spiritual manner. Today I often ask, “How would they have handled this situation?” Of course, the Pilgrims were not perfect. A couple of characters we featured were scoundrels. But most were God-fearing people. The leaders filtered their actions and reactions through Scripture, employing wise civil principles. I hope this mini-series touches you as it did me and encourages you to dig deeper and live your life with even more faith and conviction.
Regarding the Historical Accuracy of Freedom
The Brinkman Adventures series often dramatizes true stories from the lives of real people, using the fictional Brinkman family. When telling true stories, we sometimes change small details for the sake of time. On other occasions, we combine two stories from the hero’s life. Sometimes we fill in the blanks left by historical records to create a realistic scene. When making these types of changes, we strive never to contradict the actual account and always attempt to create plausible scenarios true to our characters. In the case of Freedom, we kept ‘dramatic liberty’ to a minimum. Our goal was to make this presentation as accurate as possible and create a historical resource for families and schools. We first relied on primary sources and sought modern scholars’ help when the source data was murky. I am grateful, especially to Dr. Tracy McKenzie, author and Professor of History at Wheaton College, who took considerable time to work through my scripts, carefully correcting errors and misconceptions. I would have made more than one embarrassing error had it not been for his fine tooth comb. His help, along with help from our friends in Plymouth, assisted in getting our facts right. I must be clear that Freedom is the history of the Pilgrims as I understand it. While many facts are cut and dry some are more cloudy. Furthermore, motivations can be very difficult to discern. Often we don’t even understand our own motives! So there were times we were reduced to speculation. There were also occasions where I found scholars disagreeing on a particular point. One example is Plymouth Rock. I believe the rock we celebrate today is the rock where they landed. However, some great historians feel otherwise and base this on a valid argument.
While we strove for historical accuracy and kept dramatic liberty to a minimum, there were a few times we wrote historical fiction. Bradford meeting Standish in his shop is one example. Standish setting up William and Dorothy is another. We know these three people met; we just don’t know how. So we created a couple of fun fictional scenes to accomplish the meetings. William Bradford wrote many poems, but I doubt he read them at the Harvest Thanksgiving celebration or his wedding. (I used an abridged version of one of his poems for both. I encourage you to seek them out as they are rich.) We know a copy of the Perth Assembly landed on King James’ desk, infuriating him. We also know he wrote about the comet. But I doubt he sounded like a cross between Prince John & a snake sidekick named Hiss featured in Disney’s Robin Hood. We so loved Peter Moreton’s interpretation, and we let him have fun with the character. While we filled in some blanks to tell a story, Freedom is still a very accurate retelling. My hope is that many who have listened and are now reading this will order your own ‘Of Plimoth Plantation and get it firsthand. It just might change your life!
To keep learning about this story and these people, check out the sources below, which we used in the writing of Freedom. There is much more to discover!
Our composer, Jared DePasquale, won a Seneca Award for best original score for Freedom. He shot a video detailing his creative process. You can watch that here:
The full soundtrack is available on Spotify under the title of Freedom: William Bradford and the American Pilgrims. It can also be heard on YouTube here:
Scripture quotations are taken from the 1599 Geneva Bible
McKenzie, Robert Tracy. The First Thanksgiving: What the Real Story Tells Us about Loving God and Learning from History. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2013.
Milbrandt, Jay. They Came for Freedom. Nashville: Nelson Books, 2017.
Jehle, Paul. Plymouth in the Words of Her Founders. San Antonio: Vision Forum Ministries, 2012. In association with Plymouth Rock Foundation, Plymouth, MA.
Gragg, Rod. The Pilgrim Chronicles. Washington DC: Regnery History, 2014.
Mather, Cotton. Magnalia Christi Americana: An Ecclesiastical History of New England. Hartford: Silas Andras, 1855.
Bradford, William. Of Plimoth Plantation. Boston: Wright & Potter Printing Co., 1898.
Davis, William T., ed. William. Bradford’s History of Plymouth Plantation 1606 – 1646. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1908.
Bradford, William. “A Dialogue, or Sum of a Conference”, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/50a02efce4b046b42952af27/t/50a93d01e4b0ef49c45e18d0/1353268481219/FirstConference.pdf
Paget, Harold, ed. Of Plymouth Plantation. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1920.
Daugherty, James. The Landing of the Pilgrims. New York: Landmark Books & Random House, 1950.
Carpenter, Delores Bird. Early Encounters – Native Americans and Europeans in New England from the papers of W. Sears Nickerson. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1994.
Lord, Arthur. The Colver Lectures in Brown University 1920: Plymouth and the Pilgrims. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1920.
Windlow, Edward. Good Newes from New England: A True Relation of Things Very Remarkable at the Plantation of Plimouth in New England. London: William Bladen and John Bellamie, 1624.
The Letters from and to Sir Dudley Carleton During His Embassy in Holland. London: n.p.,1775.
Pratt, Phineas. A Declaration of the Affairs of the English People That First Inhabited New England. From the pages of the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 4th series, Volume 4, 1858. https://pilgrimhall.org/pdf/Phineas_Pratt_Narrative.pdf
Phineas Pratt’s Narrative (Modernized Version), https://plymoutharch.tripod.com/thewessagussettplantation/id3.html
Williams, Roger. A Key into the Language of America: Or, An Help to the Language of the Natives in that part of America, called New England. London: Gregory Dexter, 1643.
Wood, William. New Englands Prospect. London: John Dawson, 1639. https://archive.org/details/newenglandsprosp02wood/page/n99/mode/2up?view=theater
Eliot, John. Mamusse Wunneetupanatamwe Up-Biblum God Naneeswe Nukkone Testament Kah Wonk Wusku Testament. Cambridge: Samuel Green, 1776.
Delaware Tribe of Indians. Lenape Talking Dictionary. https://www.talk-lenape.org/
Waabu O’Brien, Frank, Aquidneck Indian Council. Guide to Historical Spellings and Sounds in New England Algonquian Languages (Appendix). http://www.bigorrin.org/waabu11.htm
Algonquian Linguistic Atlas. https://www.atlas-ling.ca/
Chartier, Craig S. Plymouth Archaeological Rediscovery Project (PARP). An Investigation into Weston’s Colony and Wessagussett. Weymouth, MA: www.plymoutharch.com, March 2011.
Words of John Robinson. Robinson’s Farewell Address to the Pilgrims upon their Departure from Holland, 1620 (and other sermons). Boston: Directors of the Old South Work, 1903.
“Pilgrim Ship List Early 1600’s: Over 7100 Families and 290 Ships”, https://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/shiplist.htm
Johnson, Caleb, ed. Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, 1622. http://www.histarch.illinois.edu/plymouth/mourt1.html
Johnson, Caleb. Passenger Lists, MayflowerHistory.com. http://mayflowerhistory.com/mayflower-passenger-list
Online Etymology Dictionary, https://www.etymonline.com/
Online King James Bible, https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/
Online Currency Exchange, https://www.uwyo.edu/numimage/currency.htm
Native Languages of the Americas. http://www.native-languages.org/
Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants. https://www.massmayflower.org/index.php/research-resources-education/new-england-resources/massachusetts/plymouth-colony