The reign of Elizabeth I witnessed the establishment of the Church of England as the Episcopal or Anglican community. It was a church defined by Elizabeth’s discomfort with the Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. The church adopted a Lutheran willingness to affirm a measure of political headship over the church, liturgical ritual in worship, and a mild Calvinism in theology. This troubled many, particularly those who had been influenced by Calvinism with its emphasis on simplicity in worship style. A movement gradually emerged in England as an alternative to Episcopalianism: Puritanism. This movement was suppressed during the reign of Elizabeth. Peregrine Falcon? In the Roman Empire visitors came to Rome speaking many different kinds of strange Latin. They were called “Peregrinus” or strangers. In later English, the spelling and pronunciation changed to Pilgrims.
Scrooby (Nottinghamshire, North England) separatists Some of these separatist groups immigrated to Holland. In 1620 one of the separatist congregations sailed for New England on the Mayflower. The ship sailed from Plymouth, England, on September 16, 1620, with 102 passengers, including 32 children. Two people died, two were born. The ship was headed for Virginia, where the colonists had been authorized to settle. As a result of cross-winds and dangerous sand bars, the vessel failed to make good its course, and on November 21 the Mayflower rounded the end of Cape Cod and dropped anchor off the site of present-day Provincetown, Massachusetts. On December 21, an area having been selected, the Pilgrims disembarked from the Mayflower near the head of Cape Cod and founded Plymouth Colony, the first permanent settlement in New England. The Pilgrims were probably more than 500 mi northeast of their intended destination in the Hudson River area of present day New York. The patent for their settlement in the New World, issued by the London Company, was no longer binding, and some among the passengers desired total independence from their shipmates. To prevent this, 41 of the adult male passengers, including John Alden, William Bradford, William Brewster, John Carver, Miles Standish, and Edward Winslow, gathered in the cabin of the Mayflower and formulated and signed the Mayflower Compact; all adult males were required to sign. This compact consolidated the passengers into a “civil body politic,” which had the power to frame and enact laws appropriate to the general good of the planned settlement. All colonists were bound to obey the ordinances so enacted. This compact established rule of the majority, which remained a primary principle of government in Plymouth Colony until its absorption by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1691.
Governor William Bradford wrote, “They had now no friends to welcome them nor inns to entertain or refresh their weather-beaten bodies; no houses or much less towns to repair to. … And for the season, it was winter. … What could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness? … What could now sustain them but the Spirit of God and his grace?”
201 vs. 40,000-50,000 Both of these colonies united in 1691 to form Massachusetts
Puritans were not opposed to parties. They certainly did not have sexual hang-ups. They were not prudes. It’s true that promiscuity was absent from colonial New England. But for husband and wife, sex was important, and Puritan families were routinely large. A spouse could be punished by the authorities for withholding sex from his or her partner. Puritans were not teetotalers. Scholars estimate the Puritans had a rum-consumption rate that surpasses the alcohol-consumption rate in the twentieth century. They were intense lovers and intense haters. They were intensely reverent. They were alarmed about secularism, though they would have called it infidelity. The Puritans also feared the rising generation would not measure up to the piety of their fathers and mothers. They often talked about loss of faith in their children. Puritans had the yearning to build a Christian civilization, a new world order. Creating this was the adventure of a lifetime. In John Winthrop’s famous speech aboard the Arbella, the Puritans fixed on what I would call “a world-regenerative creed.” They believed, “We are reforming not only Anglicanism and Christendom but the whole world.” Ministers were enormously respected, people for whom the laity literally traveled the ends of the earth. The most famous case would be Anne Hutchinson, who convinced her family to follow her minister, John Cotton, to America. In America, only two “theocracies” have lasted for any length of time: the Puritans in New England, and the Mormons in Utah. The Puritans’ charter was revoked in 1689, so the Puritans could no longer compel assent. They had to tolerate Quakers and Anglicans. This created a real crisis of meaning: How do we survive in a pluralistic world? Today, we take religious toleration for granted. What would terrify us would be the exact opposite—a theocracy, such as we see in the Middle East. They exerted an influence in American culture disproportionate to their numbers. For instance, they gave us a world-regenerative creed, a vision that America is “a city set upon a hill.” That vision infuses American literature, foreign policy—our entire sense of identity. Today, we call it “American Exceptionalism”
Puritan ABCs: The New England Primer (1683) taught both the alphabet and faith. the letter U, for example, was remembered by Uriah’s beauteous wife Made David seek his Life. The primer was so popular, Benjamin Franklin was printing it nearly a century later.
By 5 or 6 could read and write (private school or home schooling) Latin school for 7 years: Grammar, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Latin, Greek, Hebrew (not in seminary) College: 3 years Seminary: 3 years Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Geometry & Astronomy Metaphysics, Ethics, Natural Science, Ancient History, … all taught in Latin 99% literacy, even on the frontier
One of the most infamous episodes in Puritan history was the Salem Witch Trials of the 1690’s. The view of the day was that the affliction of Samuel Parris’s daughter and several others was caused by colonists who were in league with the devil. Had this been the case, a witch hunt would have been appropriate. Some recent historians have tried to find a sociological root for it. Others have suggested that the problem stemmed from demonic influence exerted through the girls that the accused were actually the innocent.
In February 1692, several young Salem girls, after they were caught practicing magic, claimed they had been afflicted by witches. Their parents begun searching for the witches, and hysteria mounted, especially as pastor Samuel Parris proclaimed, “In this very church, God knows how many Devils there are!” A public witch-hunt soon arrested 150 people; 19 were hanged for witchcraft, and one man was executed for refusing to testify. But witch-hunts did arise in other New England towns—Ambridge in 1659, Hartford in 1662–63, Boston in 1688, and infamously in Salem Village (now Danvers) in 1692. What tensions rose to the surface in 1692 and resulted in this witch-hunt? some tensions originated in the religious expectations of Puritanism. One expectation was that believers fulfill, to the best of their ability, their moral duties. Another was that they examine their motives—in Puritan parlance, their “hearts”—to see whether they had sufficiently repented of sin and trusted entirely in the mercy of Christ. Puritanism intensely and regularly posed this question: Are you sincere? Answering this question often resulted in self-doubt and uncertainty. One woman, Mary Toothaker, “had thoughts she was rather the worse for her baptism and had wished she had not been baptized because she had not improved it as she ought to have done.” Puritans practiced the ritual of confession, and confession became crucial to witch-hunting. To confess was to make visible the hidden sin that lurked in everyone. This was a crucial step, and well accepted, in the process of salvation. When men and women joined the church in early New England, for instance, they were asked to confess their sins. The magistrates and ministers who questioned the accused at Salem asked them to reveal their hidden allegiance to Satan. Because Puritans felt heavily the weight of their sin, and because confession was an integral part of their lives, we should not be surprised that some fifty men and women confessed to having joined with the Devil. The Puritans believed that God had entered into a special relationship with godly people. This relationship obliged them to purge themselves of sins, personal and communal, that inevitably accumulated. The ministers and magistrates in New England believed witch hunting, and the public executions that concluded it, cleansed the community of evil. 19 women and 2 dogs hanged. Puritan dream was that they’d establish “Kingdom of God” in America… a “City on a hill” Children would be saints, and beget children who were saints The dream failed in 100 years they forgot one things: God has no grandchildren. And the monopoly of church membership being required for civic office so angered a Virginian lawyer that he wrote “The Bill of Religious Freedom” Who?: Thomas Jefferson One of 3 things on his tombstone.
Colonization of New England (Abridged)
“As soon as the coin in the coffer rings,
The soul from purgatory springs.”
--Johann Tetzel,16th C.
The sale of indulgences shown in A Question to a Mintmaker,
woodcut by Jörg Breu the Elder of Augsburg, circa 1530.
Martin Luther began the reformation in 1517
with his 95 Thesis protesting the corruption of
the Catholic Church.
Luther’s movement was supported by others
– John Calvin, French theologian, reformer and
resident of Switzerland, he founded the school of
theology known as Calvinism
– John Knox, Scottish Calvinist and leader of the
– Huldrych Zwingli, founder of Swiss reformed
– Menno Simons, Anabaptist leader who formalized
– Henry VIII & Thomas Cramer – Church of England
Protestant Sects Break
1522: Parallel to Luther’s
work in Germany, a Swiss
Reform movement began in
Switzerland by Ulrich
1529 – 1536: The political
separation of the Church of
England from Rome under
Henry VIII. Aspects of
Protestantism were later introduced under
1560 - Scottish Reformation decisively shaped
the Church of Scotland and all other
Presbyterian churches worldwide.
Luther - Melanchthon
Calvin - Beza
Zwingli - Bullinger
Grebel – Manz - Simonsz
Henry VIII - Cranmer
Church of England
Timeline of major Protestant branches and movements
Basic Protestant Beliefs
Sola scriptura (“by scripture alone”) says
that the Bible (rather than Church tradition or
the Church’s interpretations of the Bible) is
the primary and supreme source of authority
for all Christians.
This does not exclude other sources of authority,
rather it places the Bible superior to all else.
Sola fide (“by faith alone”) holds that
salvation comes by grace through faith alone
in Jesus as the Christ, rather than through
The Rise of Puritanism
• Puritans were a large grouping
of English Protestant reformers
in the 16th and 17th centuries,
who generally followed the
teachings of John Calvin.
• Wanted to “purify” the Church of
England, which they still viewed
as largely Catholic and corrupt.
• Began in the reign Elizabeth I of
England in 1558 as an activist
movement within the Church of
England. Continued throughout
the 17th century.
Believed the Church of England
needed to be “purified” to end
Did not recognize the system of
bishops that ran the Church of
Recognized the individual
congregation as the only biblically
sanctioned organized unit.
Began their congregations with
a covenant between a group of believers and God.
Each congregation elected their ministers, all of whom were
university-trained and who could be voted out by the
Puritan Beliefs (cont.)
Believed that Adam’s sin
broke his covenant with
God, and therefore man
God then made a later
covenant with Christ,
whose death offered
grace to a small minority
of people known as the “Saints.”
Believed that because the identity of the Saints
had long since been determined by God
(predestination), there was nothing anyone
could do to win salvation.
Puritan Beliefs (cont.)
No one could be entirely sure about who was
one of the elect, but if a person was saved,
he or she naturally lived a godly life. Thus,
their conduct might indicate whether or not
they were saved.
Recognized states by which he or she might
experience knowledge of redemption:
God revealed to individuals the heights to which
he/she must aspire and then the recipient
experienced a profound sense of inadequacy and
despair that served as a prelude to redemption or
in Salem (1621)
Puritans who believed only “visible
saints” [those who could demonstrate in
front of their fellow Puritans their
elect status] should be admitted to
Because the Church of England enrolled
all the king’s subjects, Separatists felt
they had to share churches with the
Therefore, they believed in a total
break from the Church of England.
Puritan sects who joined or refused to join the Church of England
Ship set sail in 1620
From England →
To Amsterdam, Holland →
To Plymouth, England →
To Massachusetts, America
first permanent New England settlement
1620 a group of 102
people [half Separatists]
Negotiated with the
Virginia Company to
settle in its
included Captain Myles
Plymouth Bay way
outside the domain of the Virginia Company.
Became squatters without legal right to land &
specific authority to establish a govt.
November 11, 1620
Written and signed before the
Pilgrims disembarked from the ship.
Not a constitution, but an
agreement to form a crude govt. and
submit to majority rule.
Signed by 41 adult males.
Led to adult male settlers meeting
in assemblies to make laws in town
“Covenant of Grace”:
Between Puritan communities and God. Requires
an active faith, and softens predestination.
Although God chooses the elect, the
relationship is a contract in which punishment
for sins is a judicially proper response to
Between members of Puritan communities
with each other.
Required mutual watchfulness.
No toleration of deviance or disorder.
That First Year….
Winter of 1620-1621
Only 44 out of the original 102 survived.
None chose to leave in 1621 when the
Mayflower sailed back.
Fall of 1621 First “Thanksgiving.”
Colony survived with fur [especially
beaver], fish, and lumber.
Plymouth stayed small and economically
1691 only 7,000 people
Merged with Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Chosen governor of
Plymouth 30 times in
springing up nearby
The MA Bay Colony
1629 non-Separatist Puritans got a royal
charter to form the MA Bay Co.
Wanted to escape attacks by conservatives in
the Church of England.
They didn’t want to leave the Church, just
1630 1,000 people set off in 11 wellstocked ships
Established a colony with Boston as its hub.
“Great Migration” of the 1630s
Turmoil in England [leading to the English Civil
War] sent about 70,000 Puritans to America.
Not all Puritans 20,000 came to MA.
Well-off attorney and manor
lord in England and Puritan
Famous for his sermon “A
Model of Christian Charity”
discussing a “City Upon the
Hill” of Christian believers
Became 1st governor of Mass.
Believed that he had a “calling” from God
to lead there.
Served as governor or deputy-governor
for 19 years.
Pilgrims v. Puritans
Upper middle class
Church of England
Loyal to Church of
Settled in Plymouth
Puritan Myths vs. Reality
“Haunting fear that
someone, somewhere may
Books, music, beer, rum,
swam, skated, bowled
Blue, violet, green, yellow
+100: Oxford & Cambridge
after 6 years
Literate, well read, managed
Sang a capella, in unison
1776: 75% of Puritan roots
Characteristics of New
Low mortality average life
expectancy was 70 years of age.
Many extended families.
Average 6 children per family.
Average age at marriage:
Women – 22 years old
Men – 27 years old.
Authoritarian male father figures
controlled each household.
Patriarchal ministers and magistrates
Puritans vs. Native
Indians especially weak in New England
epidemics wiped out ¾ of the native popul.
Wampanoags [near Plymouth] befriended
Cooperation between the two
helped by Squanto.
1621 Chief Massasoit signed
treaty with the settlers.
Autumn, 1621 both groups
celebrated the First Thanksgiving.
In 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed
Thanksgiving an official US holiday.
The Pequot Wars:
in CT river valley.
village on Mystic
Whites set fire
to homes & shot fleeing survivors!
Pequot tribe virtually annihilated an uneasy
peace lasted for 40 years.
King Philip’s War
Only hope for Native
Americans to resist
white settlers was to
Metacom [King Philip to
Massasoit’s son united
Indians and staged
on white settlements throughout New England.
Frontier settlements forced to retreat to
King Philip’s War
The war ended in failure for the Indians
Metacom beheaded and drawn and quartered.
His son and wife sold into slavery.
Never a serious threat in New England again!!