Bradley was born in East Bloomfield, New York and attended the common schools and the local academy in Canandaigua. He was associate judge of the common pleas court of Ontario County in 1836. He moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1839 where he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1841. He commenced practice in Marshall and became prosecuting attorney of Calhoun County in 1842. He was a member of the Michigan State Senate in 1842 and 1843 and developed a reputation as a gifted orator and stump speaker.
He was elected as a Democrat to the United States House of Representatives for the Thirtieth Congress, serving from March 4, 1847, until his death in New York City while en route to Washington, D.C., before the assembling of Congress. He was interred in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.