The Development of New England Society to 1660 Early American Social History, Term 1 Week 9 New England Mind • Phrase coined by Perry Miller in 1950s; argued that Puritans were tough-minded people, and that everything about Puritan existence was dramatic (i.e. everything occurred because God wished it that way), every action was symbolic, and charged with meaning. • Puritans struggled to balance opposing forces of zeal with control - enthusiasm with caution. Puritans sought union with God, but also demanded decent public deportment. Puritan Character • Miller said there were five key words to explain Puritan mentality • Depravity - the corruption of man due to original sin • Covenant - between God and Abraham, and between God and man • Election - only a few could be admitted to God’s grace, or covenant - imp of public testimony of a conversion experience. Became visible saints, God had marked them as saved before death, gained special respect in society because of it. • Grace - this was God’s gift to the saints - man is justified in the eyes of God only by his gift of grace. • Love - it was man’s duty to love one another, love which extended to correcting others when they lapsed, for their own sake. The New England Town • Town are basis of settlement in NEng • Each settlement was founded by a group of families who were allocated a collective land grant that was then subdivided to the constituting members. • Some leeway for new arrivals to be granted land, but since most of the best land had already been allocated, more common for new arrivals to establish their own town since land readily available • New England towns therefore generally closed communities, little natural growth by immigration. • recreated Eng model of small settlements, interacting with each other, and with the provincial capital on an economic and political level. Each town sent two members to the General Court in Boston to discuss weighty affairs of defense or economic policy. Parson Capen House, Topsfield, Mass, 1683 Old Ship Meeting House, Hingham, Mass, 1681 Religion 1 • Religious idealism central to settlement of NEng. • NEng not a theocracy, rather a government of the righteous, only visible saints could vote, and hold office. • Religion central to lives of people: towns were centered around a church, 1635 law that no one was allowed to live more that half a mile from a church. • land distribution controlled by church members. • Sunday = day of rest, no work permitted at all. • Attendance at church compulsory on Sundays, long services Creating a Religious Society • Puritans believed that all people were sinful (depravity), govt’s job to pass laws to encourage all to obey the will of God. • Goodness epitomised by order, sin and evil by disorder. By stamping out disorder, Puritans believed that they were reducing sin. • Mass law v. invasive. Reinforced natural authority of husbands over wives, parents over children and masters over slaves. Most crimes prosecuted were moral rather than criminal e.g gambling, drunkeness, lying, adultery, or sabbath breaking - punishable by corporeal and capital punishment. • Some New England colonies based their whole criminal codes on the bible, - idolatry, sodomy, adultery and bestiality were all punishable by death. • Popularity of humiliation – use of stocks, branding, standing at the pillory (tied to a post), be put in a cage, or be forced to wear a sign stating your crime for all to see. Essex Co. Court Records • 7 September 1636 :that William James and Elizabeth his wyfe shall appear at the next quarter Court at Boston to Answer matter of uncleanness confessed by them. • 27 March 1638 : for drunkenness Richard Lambert was fined ten shillings & ordered to sit in stocks two public days • 27 June 1637 Whereas Dorothy the wyfe of John Talbie hath not only broke that peace & Love, which ought to have been both betwixt them, but also hath violently broke the kings peace, by frequent Laying hands upon her husband to the danger of his Life, It is therefore ordered that, for prevention of future evils that are feared will be committed by her if she be left at Liberty. That she shall be bound & chained to some post till she manifest some change of her course and Conversation & repentance for what is already committed. Only it is permitted that she shall come to the place of gods worship, to enjoy his ordinances. Problems • Geographical mobility – Movement after arrival seeking lands, - no way that the Puritan leaders could keep effective control of the outlying settlements. • Geographic spread weakened the puritan ideal of closely knit communities and forced people into commercial pursuits to the neglect of their spiritual lives in order to survive. • Religious Dissent: increasing nos of people with differing religious beliefs e.g. Anabaptists, Quakers, all persecuted by Puritan authorities. According to the Utopian society which Winthrop and others sought to create, religious dissent couldn’t be tolerated, because it would detract from the perfect Godly society. How could a society be perfect if individuals disagreed about something as fundamental as how to worship God? Half-Way Covenant • Problem = falling nos of full church members – smaller pool who could vote or serve in assembly • Partly due to new non-puritan migrants, but also children of original migrants who could be baptised by virtue of their parents being full members, but their own children, the grandchildren of the original settlers were ineligible even for that. • children were less interested because never had to struggle for religious toleration like their parents; never been denied religion - therefore did not see it as anything particularly special; had not had the communal experience of the voyage from England. Also - those overseeing conversion experiences setting very high standards. • Solution - Half Way covenant of 1662 whereby the grandchildren of visible saints were permitted to receive baptism; not universally accepted. Also did not end the gradual drift away from religion by the younger inhabitants of Massachusetts. Roger Williams • Roger Williams was born into a semi-aristocratic background in England, and migrated to Boston in 1631. • Appointed minister at Salem, just north of Boston, and was held in high esteem both by his congregation and by the government. • But advocated a complete split with the C of E. Official position - desired to stay within the C of E and to reform it from within - alienated the colonial authorities • Williams upset many other settlers by proclaiming that the King’s charter was useless as the land previously belonged to the Indians, and it wasn’t his to grant. • RW banished – founded Rhode Island 1635, got on well with Miantonomi, purchased land from Narragasett. Roger Williams 1603-83 Governor of Rhode Island 1654-8 Roger Williams and the Narragansett Anne Hutchinson 1591-1643 • Hutchinson arrived in Massachusetts in 1634 - stirs up a real controversy about the nature of God’s grace. • Hutchinson believed that God would reveal his grace to individuals directly, therefore there was no need for priests or churches, rather piety was a personal achievement. This was known as the Doctrine of Inner Light, and later became popular among Quakers • made even worse by the fact that AH is a woman - in a patriarchal society women were simply not meant to do such things. • Challenge to trad puritan orthodoxy and hierarchy – can’t be tolerated • banished from Massachusetts in 1637, settles with family in Rhode Island, but murdered by Indians 1643 Ann Hutchinson Ann Hutchinson’s Trial Quakers • Quakers posed the greatest threat to Holy Experiment • Beliefs: pacifism, declaring that no weapons or violence could be used against others, even in self-defense; Doctrine of Inner Light – all holy from within; disliked church hierarchy - said bishops and priests were redundant; also rejected any kind of social hierarchy, all were equal before God, and that no other authority had any legitimacy. These views led to persecution throughout Europe • New England Quakers not content to keep views to themselves, intended to convert as many people as they could. - interrupted sermons, shouting down priests, until forcibly ejected. • Viewed by authorities as a 'cursed sect', anyone convicted to talking to a Quaker could be fined, and if convicted of actually being a Quaker whippings and other forms of mutilation could occur, then banishment - but Quakers undeterred from mission. • 1658 govt of Massachusetts Bay declared that any Quakers who returned from banishment would be executed - final threat, did not work. Four Quakers returned from banishment and were hanged. Mary Dyer offered freedom on the scaffold if she recanted, but she refused, evidence of the mentality of Quakers. • 1660 the newly restored Charles II ordered Massachusetts to stop executing Quakers, but this did not end their everyday persecution. Conclusions • New England gradually becoming less stable by mid 17thC. • Immigration continuing, economy diversifying • original religious idealism fading, religious homogeneity under threat from internal and external forces • New England becoming more diverse, yet still a very different society from the Chesapeake.