Puritan Influences on the Development of American Colonial Society
The "Great Migration" of the 17th century ensued was precipitated by many factors in England. One of these which would become incredibly important in the coming centuries was that of religious difference. Since the formation of the Church of England, religious dissent had become increasingly popular in England and her colonies. One religion which had a particularly important impact on the development of the American colonies was Puritanism.
Socially and economically, the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay organized themselves so as to stress the idea of self-government. The Puritan squire John Winthrop, who helped to initially found the colony, described an ideal Puritan community as one which would "uphold a familiar Commerce together in all meekeness, gentleness, patience and liberallity," "delight in eache other...rejoyce together, mourne together, labour, and suffer together...in the bond of peace?" This description of what Puritan life should aspire to be most like was incredibly important in developing the social and economic structure of the Massachusetts Bay Company and subsequently carrying this structure into the development of the United States. As a result of this idealism, and of the Puritans' Calivinist beliefs (which ultimately led them to seek material wealth and security) , a certain devotion in the colony not only towards individual success, but to the success of the colony as a whole. Adding to this was the inherent need for cooperation in the colony; without it, the colonists would never have survived. Finally, the Massachusetts colony's economy relied on trade, and cooperation within the vocation was necessary for the colony to survive. By adding to those reasons the idea of self-government and, more importantly, self-reliance in government, and one can quickly see how Puritan teachings affected the early and later development of...
Page 1 of 3