Lecture Notes From Summer Institutes

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Dr. Carla Pestana - Ohio State University




• New England religiously-based culture

• Definition: "Puritan" was a negative term used by others (in England) to characterize


• England - Puritans were religious reformers in general within the Church of England -

doctrine, style, anti-Popish

• America: At first at a loss about what their identity - looked at Scripture, improve on

Church of England.

I. New England "Puritans"

A. Only part of the reform movement

• Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson were called "too radical."

B. Presbyterians not welcome in New England

C. "Puritans" were The Church or Congregationalists - the only "true" church.

D. 1630 "Great Migration"

1. Some to New England

2. Many to Virginia, some to Bermuda, Caribbean

E. New England Migration mainly Massachusetts Bay Colony

1. Self-selected "True Church"

2. With Puritan sensibilities

3. Shared values, identity

4. Homogeneous

II. Puritan Beliefs/Organization

A. Only the "Godly"

1. Had been persecuted in England

2. Identity from being a "harassed, persecuted, minority."

B. No longer persecuted minority

1. Changes the environment

2. How do you keep religion fervor, purpose strong

C. Jeremiads: Get people focused to living the "right" way.

D. Mechanism to repress the ungodly

1. Banishment: Williams, Hutchinson

2. Strangers are "vetted"

3. Bonified "religious experience" - who will be in or out - interview

Every town has "Church members" and "the Congregation" (not

necessarily full members) that can't participate in sacraments, but

must pay (tithe) and attend. A two-tiered system.

E. What will relationship to the State be (exception was Rhode Island) in

Mass. Bay?

1. Church leader can't be civil leader (not a theocracy)

2. Close relatively to civic leaders

3. All settlements are in town - no land grants outside of towns. They must

have a church and a minister too have a town.

4. Voters: White male property owners who are church members (not just

in the "Congregation.")

5. Most people were "Church Members."

F. Subsequent Generations Changed

1. Don't feel they are "Chosen."

2. Church membership dwindles, creating a problem.

3. Half-Way Covenant: a solution - If you are baptized, you are a "child of

the church" - your children can be baptized.

G. Three-tiered membership

1. True members - don't like Half-Way members

2. Children (Half-way members)

3. Grandchildren (Half-way members)

III. Very Decentralized

A. Members (male) local - decide their own business - perfectly suited for

Colonial life in the wilderness.

B. No Superstructure - "Congregations"

IV. Eventually establish Synods to standardized beliefs

A. Everything in Bible - create a Godly society

B. Discussed information from the Bible - to be agreeable to everyone.

C. Power of the Synod? Would individual congregations adopt Synod policies?

D. Cambridge Platform of 1649: The results of their discussions recorded in an

Internal Document - Users Manual for public relations, also used in England.

V. Large numbers of Ministers

A. Largest per capita in Colonial World

B. New England - they are tripping over each other

C. Highly educated at University, gentlemen educated in the Ministry

Refugees from England - too radical for Church of England

D. 1636 Harvard College: founded to keep training ministers - first graduates

Couldn't find work in Colonies, so returned to England because the Civil

War made it easier for Church reform.

1. New England sent ministers to other Colonies

2. Since towns must have a minister, it was easy to found many towns

since there were plenty of ministers.

VI. Public Morality - Reformed Society

A. Members would behave better than "normal." Eliminated lawn bowling on Sabbath

B. Laws: Sabbath, recreation

C. Everyone is responsible for the whole community (Winthrop's Modell of Christian


1. Everyone snoops on everyone else too ensure Godly behavior (wives

turned in husbands, etc)

2. More relaxed attitude about sex within marriage and drinking - they

were not "Victorians."

3. Common beverage was alcohol - water was polluted - even children drank

light beer.

4. Tea drinking reduced their intake of calories

5. They also drank cider, but not water.

VII. Demography

A. Ministers

B. Intact families

C. Not a disease environment (like Jamestown) so life expectancy was increased.

Very old New Englanders were not uncommon (Ben Franklin)

D. Very developed culture

E. 1640 - no more migration to New England: religious reformers stayed in

England because the Civil War made reform more possible.

F. New England was not a great place to move to - climate, rocky soil

1. Chronic labor shortage: but those who did go between 1620-40

stayed and thrived.

2. Rocky family farms

3. Crafts

4. Merchants

5. Entrepreneurs went to Barbados for agriculture - indentured servants

went where they were needed where life-expectancy was low -

Virginia, Caribbean.

6. New Englanders refused to migrate to other places even though NE was

so harsh.

VIII. Late 17th Century New England was no longer "Puritan." Cotton Mather was last


A. Congregationalist

B. Colonies became more diverse

1. Can't keep the homogeneity

2. 1689 Colony of Mass. lost its Charter

3. 1690's Charter does not permit the close Church/State relationship

4. 1700 Anglican Church founded in Boston.

C. Less interplay between elite and ministers

D. New merchant class

E. End of 17th Century - elite participated in philosophical/intellectual changes.

Less focused on Puritan past.

F. Public morality less of an issue, less regulations

G. Exclusivity of Church membership gone- new 1690's Churches did not limit

Membership - old Puritan model gone.

H. Still very different from Chesapeake

1. Mostly women as members

2. Wouldn't have to hold odious offices if not a member.

IX. Slaves

A. Small numbers - 1640's slave ship kidnapped slaves - scandal in N.E. referred

to as "man-stealing"

B. Slaves are expensive and need to be lucratively employed , but no big farms in

N.E. , just small farms and shops.

C. All Colonies had slaves, but Rhode Island was center of Slave Trade. Merchants

Had lots of slaves.

X. Land Titles

A. Colonial charters: Divided land into towns: each town set land policy-

"Town-Based" policy.

B. Divided most land up between original families

C. Next arrivals got rest of land

1. Their children couldn't stay - first general children could

XI. Calvin's Role in Puritan Thought

A. Not influenced as much as Scotland (John Knox)

B. They read Calvin

C. Doctrine of Predestination biggest Calvinist influence

D. More "home grown" than Luther or Calvin
XII. Salem Witch Trials

A. Everyone believed in witches - and magic. Used magic to harm neighbors.

B. People who reported neighbors to magistrate expected and got a response.

C. 1692 - Loss of Charter resulted in no government

1. People were just jailed - problems grew because they were not dealt


2. In 1640's if a scare started it was taken care of immediately

3. Now, a conspiracy was allowed to grow and fester

D. After the trials, the people realized they had made a mistake by killing many

innocent people.

XIII. Relationships with Heathens

A. If you were not a Christian, you were vulnerable: this was used to justify

slavery of Africans and Indians.

B. Churches in the wilderness: Indians as the devil, witchcraft

1. More Indian slaves in New England

C. Puritans always felt besieged by

• Indians

• Witches

• The King

D. No real desire to Christianize the Indians

XIV. Fought Over Land

A. Marblehead: un- Puritan: Sea Ports - rough, morality laws not enforced

B. Some town - disputed boundaries

XV. Anne Hutchinson

A. Brings tension to Puritans

1. Preaching

2. Role of laity

B. Review of Sermons

C. Role of Women??

D. Conversion experience - overwhelming, hearing voices

Called "Antinomean" - above the law - personal religious experience

E. Caught up in power struggle John Cotton most prestigious minister

XVI. Company Charter (Mass Bay Co.)

A. Company all self-contained with colony, no meetings in England

B. Governor/Council decide/enforce company policy

1. Freemen demand a part in government; 1630's Freemen decline

2. Governor, Council elected: In North Reform became: religious, alcohol,

effects of industrialization, slavery.

3. Freemen sit separately from Council (Bicameral Legislature)

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