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Document Based Question Emily Morlock The Puritan colonies of New England developed in quite a different way from the previous English colonies in Virginia. The people who settled New England led completely different lives and had entirely different values than those of other English settlers. Religion was very important to them and they emigrated from England to the colonies for entirely different reasons than previous settlers. These values and ideas led the Puritans to influence the expansion of their colonies.
The Puritan’s value of hard work and education greatly shaped the political, economic, and social growth of New England from 1630 through the 1660’s, but the main contributing factor in development was the importance of religion. The Puritan political structure was the precursor for modern American government. The Puritans, with religion on their mind, created a theocracy. But they did hold town meetings. These town meetings, though not completely democratic, offered much more political involvement by townspeople than in England.
When founding Plymouth colony in 1620, Puritan men signed the Mayflower Compact stating that they would follow the laws set forth by the majority and they would establish a self-governing colony. These men did not want to create another monarchial government like the one they had just escaped in Europe and by signing this contract; they all agreed to do what was best for the community. These views appeared in many other New England communities as well.
Enlarged Salem Covenant
The Enlarged Salem Covenant of 1636 states that the townspeople “do hereby promise to carry our selves in all lawful obedience to those that are over us, in Church or Commonwealth, knowing how pleasing it will be to the Lord. ” (Doc C) The Puritans believed that God gave power to man and man should not abuse it within the government. In “Limitation of Government”, John Cotton states that “it is therefore fit for every man to be studious of the bounds which that Lord has set: and for the people, in whom fundamentally all power lies, to give as much power as God in His word gives to men…” (Doc H)
Similarly to their political influence, Puritan ideals affected the economic development of New England. Opposed to Virginia, New England was not founded as an economic venture. In “The Cause of God and His People in New England” John Higginson reminded all that “New England is originally a plantation of Religion, not a Plantation of Trade…worldly gain was not the end and designe of the people of New England, but Religion. ” (Doc J) Even with this in mind, the Puritans did strive to create a successful economy. The common term “protestant work ethic” comes from the Puritans need to always be productive.
In a Puritan’s mind “an hour’s idleness is as bad as an hour’s drunkenness. ” Puritans believed in working hard to get ahead, and they were proud of their achievements, as demonstrated in Robert Keayne’s last will and testament. “[My account books]…testify to the world on my behalfe that I have not lived an idle, lazzie or dronish life. ” (Doc I) Even though economics was not on the minds of New England’s founders, Puritan ideals did help to generate a flourishing economy. Most obvious of all, the Puritans greatly influenced the social development of New England.
Religion was so important that, in some way or another, it indirectly manipulated everything about the colonies. New Englander’s believed that they were to create a “city on a hill”, one for all colonists to look up to. John Winthrop, the governor of the New England colony of Massachusetts, wrote that “the eies of all people are upon us. ” (Doc A) Due to their desire to keep watch over all members of the community, making sure that everyone behaved appropriately, the Puritans had a great sense of unity within their colonies.
In “A Modell of Christian Charity”, John Winthrop stated that “wee must be knitt together, in this worke, as one man. Wee must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of others’ necessities. ”(Doc A) As seen in Document B, New England towns were set up with a church and town hall in the middle, surrounded by modest sized farms, all close together. This was another ploy to make sure that the townspeople could keep watch over one another. The Puritans did not allow other religions within their colonies.
This contributed to the unvarying ethnic development of many New England colonies. They shunned people who even accepted another religion. As stated by Nathaniel Cotton in “The Simple Cobbler of Aggawam, “He that is willing to tolerate any religion…besides his own…either doubts of his own or is not sincere to it. ” (Doc G) Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson, two radical religious thinkers, were banished from their New England colonies for the crime of not agreeing with Puritan ideals.
Hutchinson was convicted of the heresy of antinomianism and Williams was exiled for preaching separation of church and state along with religious freedom for all. Completely opposing to Puritan views, the banished Roger Williams, in “A Plea for Religious Liberty, wrote “God requireth not a uniformity of religion to be enacted in any civil state,” (Doc F) Similarly to this, the Puritans did not like the Indians, and they used their strong religious ties as an excuse to terrorize them. In the name of God” they ravaged Indian villages and killed men, women, and children. After a colonist attack on the Pequot’s Mystic River Village, William Bradford noted that “It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire, and the streams of blood quenching the same…but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave praise thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to enclose their enemies in their hands, and give them so speedy a victory over so proud, insulting, and blasphemous an enemy. (Doc D) Also on a social basis, the importance of religion to Puritans helped establish a public schooling system, one that would be expanded upon to eventually create the system we have today. The Puritans wanted their children to be able to read the Bible, so education was extremely important to them. Each New England town consisting of fifty or more families was required to establish a public school. It did not take long after the founding of New England for the Puritans to start establishing schools.
Document E states that “After God had carried us safe to New England…one of the next things we longed for, and looked after was to advance Learning…dreading to leave an illiterate Ministery to the Churches. ” Clearly, the importance of religion significantly affected New England’s social development. New England was greatly shaped by the morals of Puritans. The area was developed to perfectly fit their ideas and values. From 1630 through the 1660’s, the Puritans developed the New England colonies as they saw fit by infusing their strong religious ideals into the political, economic, and social structure of their communities.