Our Puritan Heritage

puritan

Our Puritan Heritage

Most people know New England was not settled quickly. Beginning around 1501, English ships explored the Atlantic coast of North America, but those who initially settled the territory chose to stay in Eastern Canada or near the rich soil of Virginia.

The Pilgrims were no exception. They were extreme separatists who branched away from the mainstream Puritan movement in England hoping to find religious freedom in Virginia. They set sail from Plymouth, England on the Mayflower, but wound up landing in Cape Cod, Massachusetts in 1620.

The harshness of the New England climate reinforced the Puritan determination to establish themselves as the selected holy faithful in a sinful world. They believed that God would reward their resolve. Their outlook permeated American society in New England, lasting into the twentieth century.

It is interesting to ponder whether the Puritan ethic that we inherited from those first settlers helped or hindered the growth of our nation.

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Comments

  1. I actually feel a certain curiosity about the Puritan ethic. It has been recast in so many ways by different scholars, I wonder what is revisionist and what is faithful to the original system of belief and subsequent lifestyle.

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  2. As I sit on the top board of the fence, I can see both sides that surround me. Just a fence sitter!!
    Manzanita@Wannabuyaduck

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  3. Well, although I've never visited New England (the closest I got was New York, Montréal and Toronto), even from Australia I know that New England is famous for Yale and Harvard. Two products of the Puritans. As someone with an interest in history, I also believe that a large source of support for the Parliamentarians in the English Civil War came from Puritans across the Atlantic in New England (I think Geoffrey Robertson mentions them in his book "The Tyrannicide Brief").

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  4. I hope they were not the ones who practiced witch hunting and hanging!

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  5. Puritanical beliefs, like many other beliefs, can do harm when taken to a fanatical level.

    Sometimes, I really feel the USA could use a little loosening up. If things were less taboo, there would be less perceived problems. Less perceived problems would make some things less valuable. Those things less valuable would be made less important. See how it goes? Loosen up a little!

    On the other side, USA needs to tighten belts, especially financially.

    I dislike Puritanical beliefs. They are usually taken to the fanatical level, and so many other things are misconstrued!

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  6. As other commenters note, determination and resolve can morph into zealotry and bigotry. Are the two inextricably linked? Is the current toxic political climate our unavoidable heritage?

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  7. I find myself at a loss for what to say here. I read this last night and felt like this was a tip of the iceberg sort of post. I think that you hit the nail fairly square on the head when you used the word "extreme." Extreme rarely means anything good when used with religion. Those sects tend to be intolerant and not open to any other form of worship other than their own. Well, many people worship differently than they do. I suppose that is why they felt the need to embark across an ocean. The fact that they didn't have enough foresight to know that others would follow.... I don't know what to say to that. Or that other people might be here whose mode of worship was even further from the mark then from where they came... again they were were like dogs living completely in the moment. And, like you said, that they continued to remain separatist and follow their plan in the face of everything after they got here... I suppose I can live with that so long as they are good with others living as they please. As for your question about it hindering the growth of the nation? I don't know if we will ever know that? All we know is what is. Would it have been better if they had decided to blend? Maybe. Since they didn't, it is just a guessing game. However, I do like how you make people think.

    I guess I found those words after all!

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  8. Well, the whole idea was to get people thinking about a thousand things by just posting a few words. The word Puritan alone is enough to get us thinking about a myriad of possibilities. I am simply a trouble maker. Suze is curious. Manzi is observant. Akseli is historical. Helen has a sly sense of sarcasm. For sure, no moss is growing under Angeline-Marie's feet. Galen is philosophical. And Robin - A visual thinker? I love my blogging friends.

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  9. Yes, you are a troublemaker. You knew this would stir me up. But you have to give me a little more time. I'm thinking.

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  10. AH HA!!!! The Puritans did not come to our shores until 10 YEARS after those pilgrim people! AND their sole purpose was to convert the indiginous people (those rascal Indians) to Christianity. This was the same Christianity that the Crusaders tried to push on the rest of the known world before the Pilgrams showed up on the scene. The Crusaders KILLED anyone who refused to accept their way of thinking.

    As for those pesky witches that some people have been asking about, the Puritans were EXTREMELY religious, and not at all tolerant. Anyone (mainly WOMEN)suspected of witchcraft were KILLED, either by burning (the accepted method of destroying a witch) or by other means, such as beheading.

    A lot has happened in the world since the Puritans tried to take charge. We now know for sure that the earth is not flat after all, and that the sun does not revolve around us. We know a lot of other things too. We know that Christianity is not the only religion in the world that has the answers to life's problems. We know that during the mapping of the human genome, it was discovered that some men prefer to be married to men, and some women prefer to be married to women. We also know that there is nothing horribly wrong with this--it's just the way things are. I am using the word "we" loosely, because the descendants of those Puritans, who unfortunately still walk the earth today, have not caught up with the rest of us, and still think the earth is FLAT, and that when judgement day arrives, they will fly up into Heaven and leave the rest of us down here on earth to burn to a crisp.

    Yes, I know that I am a snarky bitch. Frankly, I do not really give a rat's ass. All I want is all our 401K money back in our account so we can continue to live in the style to which we have become accustomed, and which we have EARNED by having to put up with those obnoxious Puritans all these years.

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  11. Hard to say, in hindsight. I like to convince myself that, unless intentions are evil, everyone is just doing their best.
    Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

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  12. Judie: No one would believe you are the least bit snarky. In my humble opinion, the most significant word in your gentle position statement is EARNED. I agree with you. Those who earn it should keep it.

    Miriam: You are too nice. They would definitely have condemned you.

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  13. Thank you, JJ. I am glad that you gave me time to rise to your challenge. I have a new post out today--check it out!!

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  14. That's an interesting post,I always knew about the puritans,but didn't know any thing about the climate over there, and didn't know they stayed in eastern canada! I learned something new! I stutied about the history of the acradiens in nova scotia which has peaked my interest! What part of eastern canada that they lived in!?

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  15. It's all new to me. Thanks for sharing.

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  16. Thank you all. It is quite an interesting subject.

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  17. Tyler: They settled in Labrador and Newfoundland.

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