Question: What’s the average American life expectancy in 2019?
Answer: 80, give or take. 📈
Question: How ‘bout in 1700?
Answer: 30 gets you into AARP, sport.
That colonial context of livin’ fast and dyin’ young makes Simon Bradstreet so darn interesting. The guy died today in 1697 at the age of 93!
So entrenched in the first century of the Commonwealth was Simon Bradstreet that fellow upper cruster Cotton Mather referred to him as the “Nestor of New England”, a nod to the old-as-dirt mythological king of Pylos in Homer's “Iliad” #nerdalert
Bradstreet was a 25 year-old political operative in 1628 when his boss, Thomas Dudley, teamed up with John Winthrop et al. to establish the Massachusetts Bay Company and launch a Puritan colony.
That same year, he married Dudley’s daughter Anne. And if you think it’s weird that he fell for his boss’s kid, just wait ‘til I tell you that she was 16 at the time #yikes #braceface
That said, Anne Bradstreet eventually became the first lauded female poet in the New World, so things turned out alright for her.
By the time that he shipped up to Boston in 1630, Bradstreet was indispensable within the Puritan establishment.
He served as 1 of 8 commissioners of a military alliance among British colonies.
He helped draw the boundary between New England and New Amsterdam.
He also defended colonial rights once Charles II was restored to the throne.
This put him on the path to serve as the last governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony before it was wrapped into the new Province of Massachusetts Bay in 1691.
As a powerful white dude colonist, though, Bradstreet was contractually obligated to be problematic.
In 1638, he was one of the judges that banned Anne “Who’s Your Heathen?” Hutchinson.
Perhaps out of a late-in-life revelation that independent women aren’t a threat, Bradstreet condemned the Salem Witch Trials in 1692.
Once he was out of power, of course.
But Bradstreet partially made up for it by serving as a common ancestor between future Supreme Court Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and David Souter.