Daniels, the Puritans were "[o]ne of the most literate groups in the early modern world", with about 60 percent of New England able to read. InMassachusetts required heads of households to teach their wives, children and servants basic reading and writing so that they could read the Bible and understand colonial laws. Inthe government required all towns with 50 or more households to hire a teacher and towns of or more households to hire a grammar school instructor to prepare promising boys for college.
Visit Website Through the reigns of the Protestant King Edward VIwho introduced the first vernacular prayer book, and the Catholic Queen Marywho sent some dissenting clergymen to their deaths and others into exile, the Puritan movement—whether tolerated or suppressed—continued to grow.
Some Puritans favored a presbyterian form of church organization; others, more radical, began to claim autonomy for individual congregations. Still others were content to remain within the structure of the national church, but set themselves against the doctrinal and liturgical vestiges of Catholic tradition, especially the vestments that symbolized episcopal authority.
As they gained strength, Puritans were portrayed by their enemies as hairsplitters who slavishly followed their Bibles as guides to daily life; or they were caricatured as licentious hypocrites who adopted a grave aspect but cheated the very neighbors whom they judged inadequate Christians.
They appeared in drama and satire as secretly lascivious purveyors of feigned piety. Yet the Puritan attack on the established church gained popular strength, especially in East Anglia and among the lawyers and merchants of London.
The movement found wide support among these new professional classes, in part because it was congenial to their growing discontent with mercantile economic restraints. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth Ian uneasy peace prevailed within English religious life, but the struggle over the tone and purpose of the church continued.
Many men and women were more and more forced to contend with the dislocations—emotional as well as physical—that accompanied the beginnings of a market economy.
Subsistence farmers were called upon to enter the world of production for profit.
Under the rule of primogeniture, younger sons tended to enter the professions especially the law with increasing frequency and seek their livelihood in the burgeoning cities.
With the growth of a continental market for wool, land enclosure for sheep farming became an attractive alternative for large landowners, who thereby disrupted centuries-old patterns of rural communal life.
The English countryside was plagued by scavengers, highwaymen, and vagabonds—a newly visible class of the poor who strained the ancient charity laws and pressed upon the townsfolk new questions of social responsibility.
One such faction was a group of separatist believers in the Yorkshire village of Scrooby, who, fearing for their safety, moved to Holland in and thence, into the place they called Plymouth in New England.
A decade later, a larger, better-financed group, mostly from East Anglia, migrated to Massachusetts Bay. But in practice they acted—from the point of view of Episcopalians and even Presbyterians at home—exactly as the separatists were acting. By the s their enterprise at Massachusetts Bay had grown to about ten thousand persons, and through the inevitable centrifugal pressures of land scarcity within the borders of the swelling towns, ecclesiastical quarreling, and sheer restlessness of spirit, they had outgrown the bounds of the original settlement and spread into what would become ConnecticutNew HampshireRhode Islandand Maineand eventually beyond the limits of New England.
The Puritan migration was overwhelmingly a migration of families unlike other migrations to early America, which were composed largely of young unattached men.
The literacy rate was high, and the intensity of devotional life, as recorded in the many surviving diaries, sermon notes, poems, and letters, was seldom to be matched in American life. Yet, as a loosely confederated collection of gathered churches, Puritanism contained within itself the seed of its own fragmentation.
Following hard upon the arrival in New England, dissident groups within the Puritan sect began to proliferate— QuakersAntinomians, Baptists—fierce believers who carried the essential Puritan idea of the aloneness of each believer with an inscrutable God so far that even the ministry became an obstruction to faith.
These sorts of disputes—which have a certain inevitability in any community where the quality of true faith is the only value worth disputing—make the history of American Puritanism seem a story of family rancor and, ultimately, of disintegration.
But Puritanism as a basic attitude was remarkably durable and can hardly be overestimated as a formative element of early American life.
Among its intellectual contributions was a psychological empiricism that has rarely, if ever, been exceeded in categorical subtlety. It furnished Americans with a sense of history as a progressive drama under the direction of God, in which they played a role akin to, if not prophetically aligned with, that of the Old Testament Jews as a new chosen people.
Perhaps most important, as Max Weber profoundly understood, was the strength of Puritanism as a way of coping with the contradictory requirements of Christian ethics in a world on the verge of modernity.
It supplied an ethics that somehow balanced the injunction to charity and the premium on self-discipline; it counseled moderation within a psychology that virtually ensured exertion toward worldly prosperity as the best sign of divine favor.Most Puritans who migrated to North America came in the decade in what is known as the Great Migration.
this article focuses on the religious history of the Puritans in North America. but neither did they institute religious freedom.
Puritans believed that the state was obligated to protect society from heresy, and it was. Many of the British North American colonies that eventually formed the United States of America were settled in the seventeenth century by men and women, who, in the face of European persecution, refused to compromise passionately held religious convictions and fled Europe.
In the storybook version most of us learned in school, the Pilgrims came to America aboard the Mayflower in search of religious freedom in The Puritans soon followed, for the same reason. Most Puritans who migrated to North America came in the decade in what is known as the Great Migration.
See the main articles on each of the colonies for information on their political and social history; this article focuses on the religious history of the Puritans in North America.
The Earth is the Lord's Following the desire for a better material life for themselves and their children, the desire for religious freedom probably motivated more immigrants to come to America.
Religion and the Founding of the American Republic America as a Religious Refuge: The Seventeenth Century, Part 1. froze to death as they drifted through the winter seeking sanctuary.
The wealthier ones who were allowed three months to dispose of their property fared better. They insisted that the Puritans conform to religious practices.