Introduction to the puritans


Who are they?

Puritans are protestant


They want to purify the Church of england from “Popery”


What do we know about Protestants?  They like to read and they hate art.


In 1660, two thirds of the men and one-third of the women could read.


What does the name Puritans tell you?


They hated the English Church  and catholic churches because they were to rich and full of ceremonies.  The Church of England was full of “Popery”  (pomp and big ceremony and art and riches of that church) They came to be more strict.


In religion they are very early protestant.  People of the book and yet touched by dark ages theories.  They were protestant in that they were believers that you should read read read. 

In 1636 they founded Harvard University.  within 20 years of their arrival! 


Preaching from the bible was their sole religious outlet.  They had no ceremonies and pomp or magic.  They preached.  And their preachers were intellectuals.


Fortunately, they wrote more than any group that settled america.

And in their homes and ceremonies and writing they demanded a plain style.  Members of congregations actually took notes during their sermons.  And their sermons went on for hours.




Being deeply religious , they travelled in families.  The ratio of men to women was 1.5 to 1 (not 10  to 1 as in New Spain).


Why did they come?  To be a light unto nations

Not religious freedom, as we shall see, but freedom to do their strict religion.


They had a covenant with god that gave them a heavy burden of responsibility for righteous behaviour.


They were Protestants that came to the new world to set up a city of god.


John Winthrop, their leader for their first 20 years said “that we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us”.  He meant that the Puritans were a new chosen people on a mission to create an ideal of christian community for the Europeans to copy. 


America was to be a place where “the Lord will create a new heaven, and a new earth, new churches and a new common-wealth”


Puritans wrote a lot of history and always fill it with bible references.  Their journey across the ocean became the Exodus.  The new World was the promised land .  Their leaders were taking their people out of babylon.


We have always been a country to show the rest of the world “the light”.  Leaders of the free world.


Indeed they were the first biggroup to migrate here, preceded successfuly only by a little settlement called jamestown.  By 1630 they had 20,000 come here in 17 boats.  The Mayflower and the Pilgrims was a puritan group.  They did the thanks giving which we celebrate.  They inspired the flood of puritan refugees.


They founded Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.

They weren’t here for religious freedom.  The Non-puritans enjoyed the right to stay outof their area.


American Exceptionalism

Ask what the 7 social sciences are (sociology, psychology,history, economics, government, geography, anthropology) and how old people thing they are. 


This is a term we’ll come back to.

Americanexceptionalism means we are the exception to the mistakes of the past.


In the puritan concept it is very strong.  It is strong in that they believe they are creating a new world that will not be corrupt like the old world.   We can start a new world.


Look at our dollar and the weeds behind the pyramid.


Governments job is to enforce religion


Abrahams covenent  requires responsibility for him and all of his descendents.

As with Israel the glory will go to the Group.


In their early state, only puritans could vote or hold public office.  The state was Puritan, and its towns were puritan towns.  Its laws were puritan laws, passed by Puritans in their civil capacity.  Its town schools were Puritan schools, supervised by puritan ministers, taught by tested puritan teachers.  And the religion of their schools was Puritan.   


The roots of strongs self-governmetn come from their town meetings, where they would discuss what was good for this new kingdom of god.


They were largely middle class, yeomen, artisans, craftsmen and merchants.


Other than the religion, the systems of public and private life, the systems of law s and customs their clothes and, importantly, their language all came from England to New England.



            The Puritans are  famous for burning witches.  The Salem Witch trials happened under puritan watch.  Many reasons have been suggested by historians.  But these were deeply religious peole and the world was seen as ful of spiritual battles.  They were fighting the devil.


            Within the first few months of accusations, hundreds of men and women were in jails under charges of witchcraft.  However, the mass executions provoked widespread repugnance;  In the Fall of 1692 it stopped almost as quickly as it began.


            Punishment was more to show god that the communities did not condone sin.  The churches withered through the children not converting and them not going outside for converts.  When theology backed up lineage too much, Puritanism lost.




Adventures of the puritans

The Puritans came here in a boat called the ________ .  The holiday we celebrate about them is called ________ .

These people had been chased out of England by King James 1 of England.   They spent twelve years in Holland.  But it was an uncomfortable stay, because they were immigrants and didn’t speak dutch.  Their real home had become heaven.  They started then to be Pilgrims.


The decision to leave Holland was a difficult one.  They didn’t know anything of this new land.  Unfortunately, they had heard of Indians being savage untamed beasts that ate people.  But these were a brave and determined people.  Against the dangers was the hope of creating a new world for God.


Also, They worried about money.  They would certainly need supplies.  But here they Entered into a contract with the London Company .  But then came to the conclusion that the people of the lord must be seamless and un tied.  They also thought of the need for protection.  The dutch migh supply this.  But, finally they put their hope in God.  And after 3 years of saving, as a community, they bought the “speed well” and the “Mayflower”  in 1620.


The speedwell started to leak so they all had to redock and reboard the Mayflower.  102 of them.  And they rode in the rough sea on that little boat for over 2 months.


They probably never would have made the decision to go had they not already fled one country.  Had they not had the practical experience and habit of doing so.The Puritans called themselves Pilgrims.


The day of their departure was very sad as they said a teary teary farewell to their host country and their fellow congregationists for whom there was no room.


On the boat they got lost and they started to argue about where they’d go and division seemed to rear its ugly head so they  created the first peoples’ constitution ever.  It was the Mayflower compact.


Constitutions keep people together.  You agreee to disagree, but do it with rules.  Bulkwark of a democracy is that you don’t start shooting at eachother when you have a disagreement; You vote. 


The Puritans Arrive

The Pilgrims landed on a flat boulder called Plymouth Rock. After they were lost at sea they kissed the earth and thanked god when they were finally on land.


But imagine this, now past the dangers of the ocean, they have to friends to welcome them, or hotels with entertainmain and food.  No houses.    It was winter on the east Coast.  They didn’t know that east coast storms are very violent. and many were felled by indian arrows.


Here they are very poor and start to starve.  Their first 1/2 year they dug equally clams and graves.  By summer half were dead.


Then Spring came and birds started and green reappeared.  One day and Indian came into their midst.  They had had skirmishes with some previously and had fear.  Miles Standish picked up a gun and was ready to kill him.  But the Indian showed his bare hands and then shocked them all by saying “Welcome Englishmen”  IN ENGLISH!!  He was followed by squanto who also spoke English.  They met with the chief and signed a nonagression treaty that lasted 50 years.


Though it seemed miraculous.  Samoset had been kidnapped and taken to England and returned as useful.  He was at that time embassador from a great Indian Chief.  The chief welcomed them into alliance. He helped them (only half survived).  And they had that first meal of their harvest with the indians it was called Thanksgiving.  


Fortunately, Very Soon the new English King, Charles 1, started really persecuting puritans.  So the largest migration to the new world began in earnest.  In th enext 20 years, 26,000 puritans came to America.

The Protestant Working Ethic - INtro

The belief presented here is that not only between, but within countries, the business leaders and owners of capital, as well as the higher grades of skilled labour and even more the higher technically commercially trained personnel of modern enterprises are overwhelmingly Protestant.


The percentage of Catholic graduates among institutions of higher learning lags behind the protestants and they study humanities more than science.


Puritan and Calvin control was much tighter than Catholic (unbearable).  So when the reformation happened it was FOR more control. The bouguios were heroic in its advocacy.


The puritans prospered, despite poor natural resource endowmnents.


3 parts of the PWE


1)       Signs show you are saved.

God  has predetermined the outcome of 144,000 people to be saved.  As in Augustine and Luther, man is evil. He needed salvation.  How to know whether you are saved or not is the big question.  They looked for signs. 


Success and good deeds were  signs of salvation.  They studied their spiritual accomplishments and failures to find evidence of Gods favor or blame.


Working for signs of salvation Worldly success shows you as one of the chosen.  Faith had to be proved by its objective results. They viewed all pure feeling and emotions with suspicion.  If you were saved we’d have some proof.  So,e sign of being chosen.


{This view of the outer manifestations  revealing the significance of things is directly traceable to William James. }


Good deeds showed you had the spirit.  If you had the spirit you would make extra exertions.


Good social conduct was the result of salvation, not the cause of it.  Catholics believed in good works, not puritans.


They daily tried to improve themselves and wrote diaries with detailed self examination looking for signs.


“people write of their sins week after week and how bad they are and how much harder they have to work”.


one wrote in 1640 April 15th “When I looked over the day I saw how i fell short of God and Christ and how  I had spent one hour unprofitably. “


Gods hand was visible not only in the ultimate direction of events, but also in each detail and episode of daily life.  Each action shows shadows of  divine and timely things.  Each thunderstorm or Indian attack or failing to go to work was a sign of something.


So how do you know your’re saved “signs  What might be a sign you are saved? Success and good deeds.


The genuine puritan even rejected all signs of religious ceremony and buried his nearest and dearest without song or ritual in order that no effect of superstition should creep in.


2) You must follow a calling


Luther invents the word calling.  Calling is God choosing you to do some worldly action.


A boy usually chose his calling between the ages of 10 and 14.  Apprenticeship was 7 years.  Changing jobs was hard due to the length of preparation. And due to the meaning of the word calling.


Thus by yoking together in name the business of earning a living and the duties of religion the Puritans emphasized the sacredness of every man’s work in the world.


how to find a calling


1) You see a public need.  The choice of calling may not aim at personal, but that publick good.  no occupation is lawful but what is useful unto humane society.  This wa s the basis of condemning the loteries.   There is no protestant  monasticism, it is not good to go into isolation from this world.  Luther looks upon renunciation of this worlds duties as selfishness.


 Man comes after god in creation.  He is next to be served. 

All was created to glorify god.   All were to serve him indirectly by serving another.  


To serve god you must serve man.


Man occupies the key position in the order that god ordained and when man neglects this end the rest of creation looses its purpose.   


The world is obviously designed by God to serve the utility of the human race.  This makes labour in the service of  social usefulness appear to promote the glory of God and hence is willed by him.  There was an elimination of the debate about the meaning of life .  It was finished.  


Eating and drinking show glory, but if a man grows to love them and never looks how to employ it to gods service he propounds no right end.


2) Talents show calling.  Someone would have a gift. 

Apart from sleep and lawful recreation a true christian spent his whole life in the performance of his “particular” and “general” callings.  Anything less than hard work with minimal sleep was bad. 


The idea of calling prowls about our lives like the ghost of dead religious beliefs. 


The god of calvinism demanded of his believers not single good works, but a life of good works combined into a unified system following a calling.


Outside of a well-marked calling the accomplishments of a man are only casual and irregular, and he spends more time in idleness than at work.


The concept of fulfuilment of duty in worldly affairs as the highest form which the moral activity of the individual could assume. 

Write a list of 5 things you could work for


There was no room for the very human cycle of sin repentance, atonement, release and renewed sin.  All behavior was part of a consistent method of conduct sharpening.  Hence the name methodist stuck.  Only life guided by constant thought could achieve freedom.  It was a monastic ideal


The catholic ethic was an ethic of intentions.  Beyond his minimum of duties, good works didn’t form a consistent rationalized system of life. The single good or bad action is credited to the doer.  The world of the Catholic features the priest as magician who would magically make it alright.   and is not as thoroughly rationalized as calvanism or jewish works. 


applied to the outside.


3) fear of “Idle hands”


Idle hands are “the devil’s workshop


Puritan texts did condemn the making of money and goods.  The real moral objection though was to the relaxation and sense of security those posessions that might cause.


 You may labor to be rich for God though not for the flesh and sin.


The problem with money is it will cause you to “relax”.


The enjoyment of wealth and consequenceof idleness and temptations of the flesh would distract one from the pursuit of righteousness. There is a restless struggle with life.


To wish to be poor is the same as to wish to be unhealthy.  The old testament repeatedly stresses rewards for obedent people.


But, waste of time is a deadly  sin.  The span of human life is infinitely short and precious to make sure of one’s own election. 


Loss of time through socialbility, idle talk, luxury,or more sleep than is necessary is worthy of absolute moral condemnation.


Inactive contemplation is also bad (sunday is for that)


If temptation is to arise you are to work harder.  That is the devil tempting you.    Unwillingness to work is a sign of lack of grace.  So the St Paul statement “he who sill not work shall not eat”..  Even the wealthy.


Everlasting rest is in the next world.  “do the works of him who sent him, as long as it is yet day”. 


The protestant was lonely.  He found no salvation through an institution.  Ifn fact, he almost didn’t find salvation.  Only a select few had jesus died for.  The complete elimination of salvation through the Church and the Sacraments was what made Calvanism more radical than lutheranism and anthema to the church. 


The social order


They were very confucian and very dark age like.  


Since god created the world with some some things below others, he naturally proceeded upon the same principle in constructing human society.  


The essence of social order lay in the superiority of husband over wife, parents over children, masters over servants in the family.  Ministers and elders over congregation in the church.  Rulers over subjects in the state.


But as god created man, parent to children was the only non-chosen relationship.  All voluntary covenants.  You choose state, family and church.  You don’t choose whether, but which one.  So you may change governments.  So within order there was freedom and mobility. 


It was based on affirmative contraries.  Exact opposites that didn’t exist without and cause eachother (buyer seller, hot cold, virtue vice).  Husband Wife Preacher congregation.


Man lives in 1) societies first, 2) family second, 3) church third.  All done against the order is done against god. 


The puritans were no levelers.  Social classes and the various offices and positions of social rank existed for them as part of a divinely ordered plan. 



The first society is family. God could of made millions to worship him but chose to propogate via family. 


Abraham’s family was the first church.  Abraham and his decendents.


 But the family was the main inculcator.  If the family failed neither church nor states efforts would amount to much.  


The fifth commandment was their favorite. “Honor thy father and they mother: that thy days may be long upon the land.   


 family is backed by government


The family having no government to itself, needed a government.  The government didn’t supercede the family, rather it backed it up.   


As the population grew “tithing men” were each given the responsibility and authority to monitor 10-12 families.           


Those unworthy of having a family would have their children taken from them or not be allowed to set up a household.


Those who were unmarried the law said had to live with a family.  To be under the control of a family. 


Puritan people considered far afield relatives close kin and showed affection by keeping in touch and with business dealings.  Poor dealing would be excused more so if the person was family.


Thus in their economic, as in their ecclesiastical and political affairs, the puritans assigned a major role to their families. 


As long as  families were well ordered, as long as men respected the logic of relationships, corruption would be restrained  and society would escape those iniquities that invited divine judgement.



When god presented Eve to Adam he “solemnized the first marriage that ever was”.  Women are like governments: a bad one is better than none at all. 


Mate selection had little to do with love, a lot to do with social rank.


Required convincing the father that you would provide well for his daughter.  But they could not make the child marry someone they didn’t want to.


We get to choose our mate. But once the covenant is made it is done and has rights and duties. 


You had to write a contract, publish it, rewrite it in the present tense, do the service, celebrate and consumate.

family rules

Peaceful cohabitation, sexual union and faithfulness and economic support were essential to the maintenence of marriage. And controlled by the government.


For having parties at the house or failure to support your wife properly you could be fined. Adultery resulted in death, whippings, fines branding or  made to wear the letter A , or stand in the gallows with a rope around your neck. 


The man stood before the family in the place of god.  But could not strike her or command her to do anything contrary to the laws of god.      


Women were assumed the weaker in body and mind and not too much was to be expected of her and some went mad from too much reading.


A womans place was in home educating her children keeping and improving what is got by the industry of man and seeing to it that none was wasted.


Love was a sugar to sweeten married life.  Not essential, but a duty imposed on married folk.  Otherwise disobeying god. 


And the love needed moderation as the highest love was for god and there would be no marrying in heaven.  Even the widow had to show moderate grief to show his love was within bounds.  It was a rational love.  


So there was room for laughing and love, but their best hours were spent on a heavenly goal.


 Divorces were rare and they gave you the right to remarry.  But Separations were to be had. 




The parents had to make them ready for work and heaven.


Children and adults were the same. 

Children of 6 and 7 were dressed as adults and expe ted to act like adults.


Both needed the same religious food.   Hell is filled up with children and adults alike.


The child went to church from the first sunday he was born and had to listen to the sermons.  Through all of child hood and teens and adulthood, long prayers and sermons were listened to.       


Parents and preachers were alarmed when a child showed little interest in religon, because their moral and spiritual welfare was the first consideration.   


The parent was responsible for the child until they were able to make a living.  So you must bring them up diligintly in proper business. 


After getting a calling at 10-14 the children were shipped off to their master apprentice for 7 years for day and night .    Parents did not trust that they would not spoil the child with too much affection.  They would spare the rod and spoil the child.


When the child was established in marriage and calling, families’  responsibility was done. 


            THE EDUCATION

And they made the most educational contributions to the US. 


In 1636 they founded Harvard University.  within 20 years of their arrival! 


Man was evil and fought evil with christian knowledge.


The main school was the family.


They later might go to grammar school later and learn classics and in the meantime but you must get started on church as soon as possible.      


Parents were also responsible for the soul of the child.  The law required they teach them to read because  the one chief project of Satan was to keep men from the knowledge of the scriptures.  


One must read every day.  Not for  gain or leisure but intensely for salvation. {Grace enters via understanding and therefore the Catholics were inferior.}


Obviously the bible was the main study book            Some read it four times a year.


The #1 text book was the New England Primer. 


In it were alphabet things like


A in adams fall we sinned all

B Heaven to find the Bible Mind.


And this poem:


I in the burying place may see,

Graves shorter there than I,

From death’s arrest no age is free,

Young children too must die,

My God may such an awful sight,

Awakening be to me!

Oh! that by early grace I might

For death Prepared be.


 The saving was complicated because the child was naturally evil, inclined to its own will. 


Natural christians sons were not automatically saved. Hell is real



The problem of discipline was to make an evil natured animal at least partly rational animal act against his nature and according to his reason.


Corporeal punishment were also used, but looked down on.   Better whipped than damned! But the whip was the last resort.  Raving and kicking instruction was slavish, abominable and brought dreadful judgement from god.


The secret to saving the child is good habits.  Children can be saved by this alone.  Habit training neglected in youth could not be made up later and though salvation was possible without education it was very difficult.


But individual proclivities and tendancies were to be taken in in the rearing of children and the relationship between parent and child was not one of harshness ans severity , but of tenderness sympathy.


Start small by pointing out the lessons in all things. Then go towards the memorization of the catechism. 


Parents should be a little distance as familiarity would breed looseness.



Servitude in New England was not simply a device by which one class of men got work out of another class.


Master to servant was like father to child.


People were VOLUNTARY servants for money or training . Or to pay for their passage.   It was also a school, where vocational training was combined with discipline in good manners and guidance in religion, a school of which all servants were the pupils and to which many respectable and godly men sent their children.


Most of the inhabitants of 17th century New England were or had been servants (servant having a wider meaning then. 


The pay depended on the type of servant.  But indentured servants got a set of tools and a suit of clothes at the end of his term.  Hired servants got the most money.  Apprentice servants got training.


You were to teach servants religion so they would work due to other than punishment.  Often they were unreligious and unruly due to a shortage of labor. 

INVOLUNTARY servants worked for a master as punishment for wrongdoing.  Prisoners of war (including indians, and irish and scotsman taken by cromwells army).  Slaves were few as it had to be voluntary (as engaging in the war that made you a prisoner was).  When a man stole and couldn’t make restitution in cash. or debt.

            Obedience was the order of the day.As to christ the servant must be faithful and reverent and with holy fear

            Voluntary and involuntary servants had to do nothing without orders from above, work the whole day and perhaps night.  He had no private time.


And servants were not allowed to marry, but had relations.


The master was like father.  But could not be cruel without cause.  A minimum of food and respect. 

                        Cultural Conclusion

But the puritans did survive in creating the basis for a national character. 


We are world leaders, educationally inclined, clean (no bribery), moral, family values and religion.


They wrote and lectured alot.  They set up Harvard university which has trained most of our leaders. 


Their writing greatly influenced the founding fathers and expecially Benjamin Franklin.


We are still a religious nation with a sense of calling.  We until recently have still been still the country to show the rest of the world the way to salvation. 


Economic Portion



In 1619, 12 years after the white man got to north america, a Dutch ship brought 20 blacks to Virginia (at least three were women).   


They were not slaves.  They were indentured servants.  They had to work to pay for their voyage to the US.  At the end of their servitude the master had to give them freedom, clothing, a small sum of money or a plot of land.  All of these were expensive and the price of labor was going up.


Slavery wasn’t that big in the US for the first 70 years.  But by 1700 slavery took off in the US South. 


The south was set up with big land grants.  This was done in a way very different from the North. This was done directly from the king.


The south is not the US. The north and puritans are more so. 


What made our country great?  Slavery?  No. 


When africans got here they were coming from a tribal-early agricultural  situation to mostly a n agriculture (they were mostly sent to the south). 


Music and arts were a large part of the african life.  The literature and histories were oral.  But there were many languages in Africa.  So communication was largely facilitated via English conversion.


From early imperialism slavery was a big part of imperialism.  On the trip to America (north and south) one of eight blacks died.  Columbus brought blacks on his fourth trip to south america.


The Americans TEXT BOOK PG 71 to 78


How  Did Africans use culture and family to cope in the now world? 10 lines, use and underline one line from the textbook pg 75


Describe Triangular trade, the middle passage and who raised cash crops for whom in the Agricultural south.


Using pgs 71-2  and 77-78 discuss the benefits and drawbacks of the industrial north and the Agricultural south.  Use and underline one line from 71-2 and one line from 77-78 Finish by stating which is best and why. 10 lines.


Music dance literature and art.  This stuff is now seen as American , but it is largely a derivative of Africa.  Such songs became intregal to work in the New World   Dances such as samba and Rhumba come from africa.  Tango comes from an african word.  African stories of uncle rhemus and such are part of the american language.  Also African language forms are part of American speach.  And much of the art or embellishment of southern mansions comes from African artisans based on African arts.