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date: 25 March 2017

The Puritans

Summary and Keywords

The Puritans were a group of people loosely defined through their shared adherence to the reformed theological tradition, largely following the work of John Calvin. Beginning in the 16th century, the Puritan movement took root in specific regional locales throughout Germany, Scotland, the Low Countries, and England. Following Queen Elizabeth’s settlement of 1559, which mandated conformity with the Church of England, the church’s authority splintered further as Protestants clashed with the episcopal polity, or church hierarchy. Religious conflict intensified from the 1580s through the end of James I’s reign, through repeated appeals to antiquity and patristics (writings from early Christian fathers) as pleas for further reform. Religious tension and persecution under the repressive regime of Archbishop Laud caused Puritans to leave England in search of new lands and communities.

When the Pilgrims and Puritans migrated to North America in 1620 and 1630, respectively, they did so with the intention of contesting the power of the crown to mandate religious uniformity. They believed in a Calvinist-based religion that espoused a separation of church and state, but that also privileged the spiritual authority of the individual to such a degree as to leave no clear signposts about how the disparate individuals practicing these faiths should form communities. Puritan congregations in New England allowed laymen as well as women new forms of spiritual self-discovery as they orally translated the evidence of grace recorded upon their souls into communal knowledge and a corporate identity that fashioned itself as a spiritual beacon to the world. Missionary encounters soon redefined Puritan faith, theology, and pious practices. Puritan identity in 17th century North America reconstituted itself through a particular confluence of interaction with foreign landscapes, native tribes, Africans, and new models of community and social interaction.

Keywords: saint, Great Migration, typology, separatist/non-separatist, covenant theology, testimony of faith, American Indians, missionaries

  • Heare I’le bee with you, heare you shall
  •                                                 Injoye
  • My Sabbaths, sacraments, my minestrye
  • And ordinances in their puritye
  • But yet beware of Sathans wylye baites
  • Hee lurkes amongs yow, Cunningly hee
  •                                                 Waites
  • To Catch yow from mee; live not then secure
  • But fight ‘gainst sinne, and let your lives be
  •                                                 Pure

Thomas Tillam, “Uppon the First Sight of New-England” June 29, 1638

A rare literary expression from the time period, Thomas Tillam’s 17th-century poem captures the experience of the Puritans arrival in New England.1 In the quote above, which comprises the pivotal middle stanza, the speaker’s voice takes on an omnipotent quality, which permits Tillam to encapsulate the perils and promises of the Puritan errand to the New World. Upon the First Sight of New-England reveals the wonder and joy associated with the establishment of a New Canaan, a welcome refuge from the spike in religious persecution experienced under the rule of King Charles I (1625–1649) and Archbishop William Laud. As the poem reveals, along with the hope and assurance that Christ would reside among them in this newly discovered land came the unyielding fear and anxiety that no community could remain fully immune from the corrupting influences of the Antichrist. The Puritans who sailed to America in 1630, or shortly thereafter, set themselves to the impossible task of establishing a community that was doctrinally pure, wedded to the precepts of Calvinism, and free from the corrupting presence of the ungodly: those who had not been elected. The elect were preordained to serve as founding members of the Visible Church, which the Puritans understood to be the material approximation of Christ’s body on earth.2 The presence of even one unregenerate soul threatened to corrupt the entire corporate body of the church. The anxiety displayed in Tillam’s poem speaks to the constant threat of this corruption, showing that assurance and fear, grandiosity and humility, were always twinned emotions in the Puritan mindset. To believe in the sanctity of the New World Canaan was to simultaneously recognize what a precarious enterprise the maintenance of such a community would be.

Movement and Migration

Tillam’s poem captures another theme central to Puritanism: migration and movement. In the 1630s, hundreds of men, women, and children left England’s eastern shores for New England. These individuals were already migrants. They had, in all likelihood, moved at least once in their lives to escape religious persecution and to fulfill a religious ideal in a less encumbered setting. As the Pilgrim William Bradford recounts, in his Of Plymouth Plantation (1620–1647), followers of the teachings of Calvin traveled from England to Leiden and then to New England. Migration itself was an established Reformation practice. It was a necessary tactic of survival that the ideological conflicts of the 17th century forced people to adopt. At the same time, migration was interpreted as a Christian obligation. What has become known as the Great Puritan Migration of 1630 epitomized these migratory patterns, as nearly 20,000 individuals from Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Lincolnshire, and Cambridgeshire made the arduous Atlantic crossing for the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Comparatively speaking, this was a significant but relatively small chapter in a much larger story of Atlantic transit. During the 17th century, nearly half a million Britons migrated to Ireland, North America, the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa. The religious landscape was in fact much more diverse than the monolith of Puritan Studies has occasionally made it out to be. Quakers, Anglicans, and Catholics also settled the coast of North America, while a string of Spanish missions stretched from St. Augustine, Florida, to the California coast. French Jesuits and Recollet clergy settled in the St. Lawrence, Great Lakes, and Mississippi Valley to establish a French Catholic culture in Native American villages. Yet, because of the religious belief fueling patterns of mobility in the 17th century, the Great Migration looms large in the cultural imaginary of one of the founding national myths of the United States: We are a nation of immigrants.3

Even though religion was the primary motivation behind the Puritan migration of 1630, economic and political factors also fueled migratory patterns. From the latter part of the 16th century to the 17th, many Anglo farmers were displaced from arable regions. The population nearly doubled, causing inflation, and there was a decline in traditional textile manufactures. Additionally, Anglican persecution forced several Puritan ministers into exile, while nonconformist laypersons sought to escape punitive church courts. Such conditions led to the consolidation of laypeople and ministers in towns that were often far away from their place of birth. Even for those who did not embark on a physical move right away, the rise in literacy rates broadened people’s imagination to contemplate a whole range of new possibilities. By the 17th century, the model of a residentially static society was no longer a possibility in England.4

Despite these demographic shifts taking place in England in the 17th century, nothing could prepare the group of Puritans who set out to create a new life out of the wilderness of New England. In contrast to other colonial models, such as the settlement of Jamestown in 1607, economic prosperity was not the primary motivation for the New England Puritan migration. Rather, sweeping theological transformations that took place over the 16th and 17th centuries drove bands of people to migrate to diverse locations throughout the early modern Atlantic world. The Puritans sought to carve a place out of the wilderness where the word could be preached according to their beliefs.5 As first-generation Puritan minister Thomas Shepard writes in his Autobiography, “most of the godly in England were awakened and intended much to go to New England.” They left all but the bare essentials of their lives and material possessions behind. The Atlantic journey took about six to eight weeks, and required that the migrants survive storms, scurvy, and other illnesses.

Retrospective narrative retellings of the transatlantic journey encapsulate these trials and tribulations. Take this heart-wrenching passage from Shepard’s Autobiography: “We had many storms, in one of which my dear wife took such a cold and got such weakness, as that she fell into a consumption of which she afterward died . . . This was a great affliction to me and was a cause of many sad thoughts in the ship how to behave myself when I came to New England.”6 From our modern perspective, it can be difficult to identify with Shepard in this passage. The tragic event of his wife’s death is buried in the text. Her illness gets only a passing reference in a text that spends a disproportionate amount of space on Shepard’s own internal deliberations on whether or not to follow God’s call to migrate to New England and his subsequent anxiety over whether or not he is indeed worthy of the call. Natural events—the storm, the illness, his wife’s death, and the survival of the child she held in her arms—are each interpreted by Shepard as signs of God’s providential design. By God’s will, Shepard suffers this “affliction” and also by God’s will, he is delivered to “shore” to be “kindly saluted and entertained by many friends.” In his Autobiography, Shepard interprets his sufferings as signs of merciful affliction, or the notion that God intervenes on behalf of the believing saint (member of the elect) to inflict suffering and then redemption. In the Puritan lexicon, the word saint did not refer to the canonical saints of the Roman Catholic Church but rather to faithful Christians in general, and was therefore applied to all Puritans who were presumed to be among God’s chosen.

Upon arriving in Salem or Boston, having undergone the Atlantic journey, the Puritans were markedly different people than they had been when they embarked from Yarmouth, Ipswich, and London. Of their journey, Bradford writes: “If they looked behind them, there was the mighty ocean which they had passed and was not as a main bar and gulf to separate them from all the civil parts of the world.”7 On the one hand, Pilgrims and Puritans arrived in the New World with a sense of their monolithic English identity, which they adhered to all the more ardently in the face of American Indian tribes. Yet this was also an identity that had been permanently altered and fragmented.

Through personal and public writing, which took the form of histories, autobiographies, and poems, Puritan and Pilgrim migrants to American tried to make sense of this tension between uncontested Englishness and the profound singularity of a religious mission that also made them distinct from their Old World brethren. The journey across the Atlantic was frequently interpreted as an allegory for the journey of their souls. Offering a famous instance of this allegorization, Bradford begins his text with a description of the apocalyptic battle between “the godly and judicious” and “the gross darkness of popery.” The first sentence of his narrative establishes that we are not bearing witness to the unfolding of history through the course of natural events but rather to the “wars and oppositions” that “Satan hath raised, maintained, and continued against the Saints.” Bradford’s Plymouth Plantation exemplifies the Reformed practice of apocalyptic readings of history.8 Using the primitive, biblical church as the doctrinal standard, Puritans bore witness to the history unfolding around them as an ongoing battle between their true Church and the Antichrist, who threatened to destroy the last remnants of the true faith.

Occurring within the framework of an apocalyptic battle, natural and historical events were interpreted as types within this ongoing battle. The Atlantic journey was one such event, interpreted as a test of faith with a predictable outcome: deliverance of the elect. Says Bradford:

These troubles being blown over, and now all being compact together in one ship, they put to sea again with a prosperous wind, which continued divers days together, which was some encouragement unto them; yet, according to the usual manner, many were afflicted with seasickness. And I may not omit here a special work of God’s providence. There was a proud and very profane young man, one of the seamen, of a lusty able body, which made him the more haughty . . ., but it pleased God before they came half seas over, to smite this young man with a grievous disease, of which he died in a desperate manner.9

The godly members of the ship are cast about, experiencing the usual trials of seasickness and stormy conditions. An ungodly member of the ship, this haughty young man, threatens to corrupt the entire lot. By divine retribution, God visits upon him the same afflictions that the young man threatened the poor with. Bradford observes that to everyone present, the illness and desperate manner in which this man died was a sign of the “just hand of God.” Again, this is an instance of merciful affliction as God intervenes on behalf of the believing saint to deliver a pure community of redeemed saints to Cape Cod. The sea is integral to the construction of a communal identity in Bradford’s text, for it induces an experience of erasure and trauma at the same time that it is divinely ordained and imperative.

The erasure and trauma at the heart of the sea voyage was even more intense for Separatists such as Bradford. Separatists were outlaws to the Church of England. Both Pilgrims and Puritans were nonconformists, meaning that they went against various Acts of Conformity that had been imposed by the Crown. The Pilgrims did not want to practice the faith of the Church of England because they felt that the Church was corrupt and past the point of adequate reformation. To the Pilgrims, England was a land of both God and Satan, a place of continued dissention and schism, where they battle was unlikely to be won on the side of the godly. They decided to “separate out” from England and to find a small religious community where they could practice their faith in the ways that they wanted to and according to what they believed God wanted. The Puritans, by contrast, were a non-separatist group of religious sojourners. They believed that their mission was to redeem God for the Church of England, to create what John Winthrop called “a city upon a hill.” This was an incredibly grandiose vision, but it was also a vision that produced deep anxiety within the community. The Puritans had to remain convinced of their righteousness, for if they were wrong, God would abandon them in the wilderness.

Dissension and schism did not end when the Pilgrims and the Puritans left England. Rather, suffering moved from the bodily torture and persecution inflicted on radical Protestants in England to the suffering mind and faith of those who left home. The decision to migrate to the New World was a deeply ambivalent move, for it was a terrifying feeling to hate your king because he didn’t represent your faith. Early American writers took on the challenge of trying to sort through this ambivalence, insisting that migration happened for a reason and that the journey was authored by God. Nonetheless, a structure of paranoia entered in and haunted the Protestant voice: once dissent began, what would prevent its unending continuance? Voices of the Atlantic journey to North America exude a sense of grandiosity as well as one of errant declension, or the wandering off into unknown parts.

Conversion and Theology

The Protestant Reformation contested religious authority in unprecedented ways, prompting a fragmentation of ecclesiastical power that led to the proliferation of theologies and sects designed to promote a particular religious vision. Mid-16th century Calvinism became very influential as an articulation of a certain kind of Protestant dissent. Reformation ideals of sola scriptura (by scripture alone) and sola fides (by faith alone) fueled a variety of sectarian visions, united only through their collective indictment of Catholicism. While these transformations took place throughout Europe, England initiated a new plan for state intervention in religious affairs through Queen Elizabeth’s settlement of 1559, which mandated conformity with the Church of England.10 Calvinists opposed the Church of England. They initiated a further reform that insisted that the church cleanse itself of the remaining papist contamination. Authority soon splintered further, as Puritans and other radical Protestant sects, refusing to conform to the laws of church and state, left England in search of new lands and communities where they could practice their faith free from fear of persecution. This was a deeply ambivalent move. Calvinists both cared deeply about England and hated England.

The fragmentation of ecclesiology and authority produced by the Reformation was structural as well as systemic. Sola scriptura and sola fides expressed highly individualized forms of faith. Moreover, Calvinists believed in double predestination, which stipulated not only that election was preordained but also that individuals could not know the status of their souls on earth. Migrants to Cape Cod and the Massachusetts Bay were thus under tremendous pressure to create some sense of communal cohesion. Not only was communal identity intrinsic to New World survival, but it also ensured the legitimacy of the mission to the New World, referred to as the “errand into the wilderness” by the great Puritan scholar, Perry Miller.11 As John Robinson, the English separatist pastor living in exile in the Netherlands, says, in his farewell speech recorded in Of Plymouth Plantation, “we are knit together as a body in a most strict and sacred bond . . .”12 Winthrop used the same metaphor in his lay sermon, “Model of Christian Charity,” which explained that community members were knit together through ligaments of love.

Congregationalism developed in New England as a system for maintaining communal cohesion and for enacting a connection between individual faith and the corporate identity of the community as a whole. As a requirement for membership, each individual in the congregation had to maintain a special relationship to God, referred to as the covenant of grace. The basis of the covenant of grace was written in the Book of Genesis. Once Adam broke the covenant of works by eating the apple, he was expelled from the garden. God took away all reasoning capacity to know. Puritans believed that they had all inherited Adam’s responsibility for Original Sin.13 Consequently, a crisis of knowledge surrounding election was pre-established by Calvinist theology. This made the process of community building all the more complex, for the basis of community—the individual covenant of grace—depended on a form of unknowable knowledge. The Puritans thus had to develop a means of intuiting knowledge of election with some degree of qualified certainty in order to maintain a pure church of godly saints.

To ameliorate this crisis of knowledge, Puritan faith developed in New England through an intensification of a daily quest for signs of grace. The quotidian search for signs of grace allowed the Puritans to intuit whether they were among the elect. The Puritans believed that grace came from personal experience, supplying the convert with an indwelling spirit that had to be engaged and apprehended by persons familiar with Scripture. Reasonable knowledge of divine election came from the convert’s ability to unite experiential and biblical religion. Yet even when this quotidian search for signs of grace proved fruitful, knowledge of election came with an important caveat: Puritans were never assured of their election. This is precisely why Shepard cautioned his followers that the “greatest part of Christian assurance lies in the mourning for the want of it.”14 Puritans based their conversion theology on Reformation interpretations of Paul’s epistles, which consisted of a belief in human depravity and the consequent human inability to know the state of the soul or instigate the conversion process. In practice, this conversion theology proved difficult to maintain, especially as a communal form of collective identity. Calvin taught that individuals could do nothing to effect the state of their souls, espousing a doctrine of predestination in which individuals cultivated their own relationship to God without a need for recourse to ecclesiastical or social hierarchies. In England, and then especially in the New World, Calvinism so privileged the spirituality of the individual as to present an ongoing challenge to any effort to form a cohesive community.

From the 1570s through the mid-17th century, Puritans responded to the dilemma that predestination posed to collective identity by adopting a “doctrine of preparation,” which taught that potential converts could exercise their will by undergoing a period of introspection and self-analysis, accompanied by the rigorous study of scriptural truths. Through self and scriptural study, the prospective convert became aware of his or her own sins; this awareness led to the discovery of an innately sinful self through self-identification with Adam’s original sin. Identification with Adam induced an experience known as “humiliation.” Humiliation initiated the process of preparation as the individual underwent more meditations on sin and depravity, which “softened” and “broke” the heart by inculcating a need and desire for saving grace.15 True humility came when the Puritan realized that original sin created a debt between sinner and God that could not be repaid in good works. Paradoxically, recognizing this condition of complete debility before God was the first step that the Puritan took towards salvation. Puritans believed that a stony heart would resist grace, while a broken heart would be more receptive to divine dispensation.

Ministers emphasized repeatedly that this process of preparation did not guarantee salvation. The individual did not convert through the softening of the heart alone. Instead, this initial phase lead to more introspection and self-examination as the individual became aware of an intense desire for God’s saving grace. After humiliation, conversion became a process of emptying out all private feelings and ideas about individual autonomy. In his sermon, Sincere Convert, Puritan minister Thomas Shepard describes this process through the metaphor of melting down the tarnished inner self. The three phases described above—conviction of sin, humiliation, and then this process of self-emptying—prepared the Puritan for communion with Christ. The Puritan began to see his or herself as a hollow cast of Adam. It was into this hollow space that the euphoric, reassuring moment of Puritan conversion occurred. God’s “seed” flowed into the unregenerate saint, “pricked” the sinful heart, and partially redeemed the convert from the irreparably destructive fall.16 Shepard described this euphoria through the metaphor of a convert as Christ’s bride, drawing an analogy between this blissful spiritual moment and an idealized marital union.

Once the Puritan had experienced this feeling of assurance, he or she had hope but not proof of divine election. The elect, referred to as visible saints by the Puritans, consisted of those community members included in God’s covenant of grace. Puritan covenant theology taught that the contract between God and humans was based solely on faith. Since Adam’s rebellion, the covenant of works was no longer valid. The Puritan belief in the breach of this original covenant reinforced their sense that humans could do nothing to affect their conversion. Only the experience of saving grace could give Puritans a clue as to whether they might be part of the covenant of grace guaranteeing salvation for the elect. The experience of assurance necessarily recurred throughout the life of a saint, coupled with the opposing yet paradoxically complementary feeling of deep anxiety. Because the saint could never fully know the status of his or her own soul, anxiety and even despair frequently followed the experience of assurance. Through more inward searching and self-scrutiny, the saint would question whether he or she had just been deluded into thinking that the experience had been authentic. Puritan conversion was an open-ended process, patterned by a dynamic oscillation between hopeful and fearful emotions.

Even though grace was characteristically elusive and ineffable, the Puritans strove to develop a system of signs through which they could study the experience in others. What was the ordo salutis, or way of salvation, by which an individual realized his or her faith? Reformed interpretations of Pauline theology and the doctrine of preparation only partially answered this question. Yet the answer was central to Puritan evangelical and proselytizing goals as they tried to affect the experience of conversion in others in English and Native American communities. The testimony of faith, a short, autobiographical narrative of conversion, which became a requirement for church membership in 1635, fostered the communal study of the ordo salutis, the way of salvation. It was not enough for prospective members to attest to their scriptural knowledge or belief in God; they had to display evidence of the effects of grace upon their soul before church members and ministers. Visible saints were called upon to translate the intensely inward experience of conversion and self-scrutiny into a series of signs that others could recognize.17 The testimony of faith marked an attempt to work out the ordo salutis in practice, for the theology of the conversion process was an interpretive process rather than a set doctrine.

Community and Government

The new communities that peppered the eastern seaboard of North America shortly after the Great Migration of 1630 entwined religion and social realities. For 17th-century Puritans, the formation of communities and the world of politics were intrinsically tied to religious ideas and practices. Communities and governments were in fact organized on the basis of religious ideas. Community formed a crucial framework for religious practice, standing as the most important manifestation of religion in connection with law, government, and nation. The fictional work of such Renaissance authors as Thomas More and the millennial promotional perspective offered in John Cotton’s God’s Promise to His Plantation (1630) inspired plans for utopian religious communities. Sermons, travel narratives, novellas, and letters promised the possibility of setting up new societies in New Worlds, while also envisioning these societies as partaking in an errand into the wilderness that would inaugurate the second coming of Christ.

The stakes for establishing such a community were incredibly large and demanded relinquishing former attachments to lives, material goods, and earthly possessions. In her famous poem, “Verses upon the Burning of Our House, July 10th, 1666,” Anne Bradstreet describes the experience of witnessing the burning of her house at night:

  • And when I could no longer look,
  • I blest His name that gave and took,
  • That laid my goods now in the dust.
  • Yea, so it was, and so ‘twas just. 18

Bradstreet interprets the burning of her house, containing all of her beloved earthly possessions, as a sign of God’s grace. The burning of the house becomes a sign of Bradstreet’s own election and a reminder that the heavenly “house on high” is much more important than her ephemeral abode on earth. In Bradstreet’s poem, earthly events are subsumed within a broader narrative of providential design. Her house burns as a reminder that life in the New World must not become complacent but rather remain devoted to the spiritual cause for which the Puritans left.

Beyond this injunction to remain faithful, there were no clear road maps for how to establish religious communities in the New World. Laws, social structures, and customs were imported from England but without the proximity of the state and its various supporting institutions.19 Additionally, the Puritans and Pilgrims migrated with the intention of contesting state power; they believed in a Calvinist-based religion that espoused a separation of church and state but that also privileged the spiritual authority of the individual to such a degree as to leave no clear signposts about how the disparate individuals practicing these faiths should form communities.

This link between the individual and the community, the singular and corporate voice, was tenuous throughout the first generation of New England history, dependent as it was upon the Puritan effort to suture the theological and the political, whereby the former was intrinsically focused upon the individual as well as a prominent strand of anti-authoritarianism. For first-generation Puritans, what became known as the testimony of faith stood at the heart of this effort to conjoin these competing strands, exhibiting an effort to facilitate the translation of the individualized covenant of grace into the collective federal covenant, or the communal contract with God, whereby elect saints would share what they knew of Christ’s love, tightening communal bonds. The testimony also offered visible sainthood as the preliminary stage to a supplemental form of political membership for those of the elect who were also land-owning white males. Upon declaring their faith, they merely had to give a short, succinct, and formulaic freeman’s oath in order to become part of the body politic and participate in communal affairs. Due to this state-sanctioned and institutionally enforced method of excluding women from the body politic, a complex gender dynamic registered formally and rhetorically within the testimony of faith as a direct result of the genre’s communal function of bridging the theological to the political, the covenant of grace to the federal covenant, and the individual voice to the corporate voice.

The 1641 Massachusetts Body of Liberties attempted to delineate the intricacies of the church/state relationship as it mediated between the autonomy of the individual, the liberties accorded individual congregations, and the need to maintain a social structure, hierarchically arranged according to gender and rank. A section entitled “A Declaration of the Liberties the Lord Jesus hath given to the Churches” establishes the autonomous power of the congregations. Article 4 accordingly states that “every church hath free liberty of Admission . . . of their officers and members, upon due cause.” However, a lengthy eleventh article qualifies this statement by explaining that the church’s power is “allowed and ratified by the Authority of the General Court.”20 The law does not clearly delineate whether the authority to discern grace within the congregational system comes from the church or from the state. Returning to the still unresolved dilemma of how to balance the power relationship between church and state, the Synod of 1648 sought to narrow its focus on this question, well aware of the dangers of assigning the magistrates too much power in governing the elect. But sermons preached and documents written around the time of the Synod reveal that not only was this question of central concern, but that the 1648 defense of public confession also functioned to solidify the terms of interdependency between church and state. In theological and ecclesiastical terms, a primary impetus for the testimony of faith was to create bonds within the church community. The link between the individual covenant of grace and the federal covenant ensured that what John Winthrop described as individual “ligaments of Christ’s love” sutured community members together through a shared a collective sense of the whole body of Christ.21

This had been John Winthrop’s ideal in 1630, but his famous sermon preached before New World arrival could not take into account the vast discrepancies between a vision of a voluntary, godly community of like-minded people and the social and political reality of implementing such a thing upon arrival in Boston. As if responding nearly twenty years later to what Winthrop could not have foreseen, John Norton explains this vision of collectivity must be solidified through the “visible bond of mutual agreement” created through the public confession. Such a “visible bond” meant that male church members would take the supplemental “freeman’s oath” upon giving their testimony of faith in order to become part of the body politic at the same time that they became members of the church. Once members of the General Court, they could vote for officers and magistrates and voice an opinion in town meetings.22 What this meant, however, was that even though women, propertyless Anglo men, and Native Americans were often included in the activity of publicly professing their conversion experience, they were not formally incorporated into the visible form of the federal covenant, which could only be fully recognized through an individual’s participation in affairs of the state. Until 1660, political subjectivity was tied to visible sainthood, a franchise limited to land-owning male church members.

The Puritans established what is known as the Congregational Way in order to realize their vision of an ideal religious community. Congregational communities modeled a particular way of faith designed to act as beacons to the world, where God would eventually reside, fulfilling the millennial biblical prophecy for all the world to see. Upon New World arrival, the Puritans encountered an indigenous population that had to be incorporated into their providential plan. The Algonquian natives of Northeastern Massachusetts were famously represented in the 1629 seal of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, as a population ripe for conversion, hence justifying English purpose in migration and settlement.

Indigenous Encounters

By the 1640s, Native American populations became a measure of the success of the Puritan movement as missionaries framed their endeavor as a culminating phase within the cycle of the New World errand. New England missions became sites of dynamic interaction between Christianity and indigenous spirituality. These spaces of intimate colonial encounter revealed the blending of different worlds. Far from the hegemonic imposition of Christianity upon a passive and subjugated population, missionary communities displayed complex syncretic blends of religious practice where missionaries looked to native populations for certain kinds of Christian truth, and native populations correspondently adapted Christianity to their own purposes.

The missionary project developed most fully under John Eliot, who learned to preach in Algonquian and then organized a series of settlements for Native American proselytes or “Praying Indians.” While maintaining some syncretic cultural and religious practices, the Praying Town also functioned to indoctrinate Native Americans into English custom. As the leading missionary, John Eliot explains that the first task of the Praying Town was to construct “a very sufficient Meeting-House of fifty foot long, twenty five foot broad.”23 Private homes and footbridges across the Charles River accompanied the meetinghouse, though many Praying Indians continued to reside in wigwams. In August 1646, Puritan minister Thomas Shepard composed a list of 29 “orders” that would require inhabitants of the Praying Towns to conform themselves to the civil fashions of the English. The Society felt that such “civilizing” institutions and laws were a necessary precondition for the conversion of Native Americans.

In 1644, the Massachusetts General Court ordered that Native American tribes in the southeastern part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony be “instructed in the knowledge and worship of God.” Two years later, John Eliot went to Nonantum, where he preached his first Algonquian sermon in Waban’s wigwam.24 The court then appointed a committee to buy land for the Praying Indian towns. Land was purchased from the Native Americans at Watertown Mills and at Nonantum, where the missionary experiment was tried at Natick, the first Praying Town. John Eliot’s goal was to generate native missionaries from the structure of the Praying Town. He appointed Cutshamekin, the sachem or Indian leader, to rule over approximately 150 people in Natick. Totherswamp and Waban adjudicated legal matters initially, while Monequassun, whom Eliot had already instructed to read and write, started as teacher of the Indian proselytes. After a series of setbacks, the first Indian Church was officially formed in Natick in 1660. As such, the missionaries called upon Native people to introduce English standards of civility within the Praying Town.

After two years of Natick experiment, Eliot discovered the need to expand. Natick was no longer a suitable place to gather in converts from other villages, in part because the growing number of proselytes wanted to stay closer to their traditional homelands. The court’s original land grant was not large enough, and it was too near the English, causing tensions between the Natick and the English settlers in the neighboring town of Dedham. Eliot obtained tracts of land approximating 6,000 acres each and created five other Praying Towns nearby: Punkapoag, Wamesit, Hassanamesit, Okommakamesit, and Nashobahh. Magunkog followed in 1669, completing the cluster that Daniel Gookin refers to as the “old praying towns.” With the exception of the Pennacook Indians in Wamesit, most of these Praying Towns were inhabited by Massachusett and Nipmuck Indians.25

The objective of the Praying Town system was to eradicate indigenous belief and custom, to create an environment where Christianity would flourish among a formerly heathen population. Indeed, the relocation of Native peoples through the Praying Town system irreparably affected kinship structures and undermined the social and political structures of Native villages. Eighty percent of the native people originally inhabiting the land where the Praying Towns were located lived by agriculture. They were not nomadic hunters, but they were significantly more mobile than the British because they would move to gather and fish between harvest seasons. The English criticized the Native’s relationship to the land, characterizing them as “lazy savages” who did not understand the proper use of the environment. While missionaries incorporated the political authority of sachems, they also greatly augmented the power traditionally accorded this figure within the governmental structure of the Praying Town. Conversely, the Puritans rejected the powwow, or spiritual leader’s authority, reflecting their deliberate efforts to supplant Native religious custom with Christianity.

Nonetheless, the Native populations were able to incorporate some of their traditional beliefs and practices within the culture of the Praying Towns. The Algonquian language remained relatively intact among the proselytes even as Eliot used it as a tool for missionary work. Eliot even imported a printer named Marmaduke Johnson, from London, to publish an Indian Library in 1660. Working alongside a Massachusetts Indian named James the Printer, Marmaduke Johnson translated key Christian texts into Algonquian.26 We do not have a lot of information on the circulation of these texts or the reading practices of Native American communities. We do know, however, that American Indians often reinvented literacy to serve their own purposes, and that the sermon was a thriving genre among American Indian preachers. Empowerment came through the re-appropriation of Algonquian from a newly scripted language back to its oral form. Powwows could be admitted into the towns provided that they submit to the authority of the Puritans. Native interest in Christianity was often rooted in parallels between Massachusett creation myths and biblical stories. Praying Indians had to alter their culture and lifestyle to subsist on the marginalized land of the Praying Town, but the settlement system also provided a limited avenue through which Natives could maintain a hold on ancestral land. Since the arrival of the English, Massachusetts Bay tribes had been devastated by waves of disease. The Praying Town presented many of them with a viable option for protecting their people and culture from further destruction.

If the Praying Town system permitted Algonquians to salvage some aspects of their culture or acquire spiritual authority by appropriating Christian pedagogy, it also irrevocably transformed the Christianity practiced therein. The spread of the Gospel took place among Richard Bourne’s Mashpee proselytes, the natives preaching in Algonquian on Martha’s Vineyard, and the Praying Town system established by John Eliot in Massachusetts. Each setting reveals evidence of Algonquian Christianity. According to one account, Eliot “begins his prayers in the Indian's language.” Then the son of Waban reads the Proverbs from Eliot’s Indian Bible, “which [according to Shepard] has been printed & is in the hands of the Indians.”27 A native named Job prays for half an hour in “the Indian Language” and then preaches from Hebrews 15.1. Several natives stand up and read from the Primer or from Eliot’s Bible. Shepard emphasizes that the allure of such scenes is in hearing the aural quality of a divinely redeemed Algonquian tongue. Such scenes serve as proof of God’s presence, as the aural sound lifts the spiritual essence from the Algonquian words printed in Eliot’s library.

Puritanism and American Identity

The question of origins—specifically Puritan origins—and their influence on the rise of the United States is a difficult line of inquiry that has become unpopular among specialists who are suspicious of arcs that extend from the Puritans to the present day. Puritan scholars narrate the history of colonial New England as a complex and varied inner landscape that must be understood in a transatlantic frame at the same time that we give due attention to the particularity of the Anglo-American colonial experience. Moreover, the integrity of the Puritan errand into the wilderness began to disintegrate by the end of the 17th century.

Yet, the legacy of the Pilgrims and Puritans lives on to present times in mythic proportions. The myth of what the Puritans stood for symbolizes the beginnings of many of the values that we cherish as integral to American national culture. We tell ourselves that our love of freedom comes from this group of courageous people who crossed an ocean to protect their rights from violation by a rigid religio-political order. We imagine the voluntary organization of congregationalism as an early form of what would eventually become a democratic political order. These myths must be understood as retrospective reassessments, bearing little relationship to the historical circumstances of migration. Neither the Pilgrims nor the Puritans believed in religious toleration, but rather that their way was the right way and that, by refusing to follow it, England was clearly moving in the wrong spiritual direction. John Winthrop, William Bradford, and John Eliot established strict religious communities where the right religious way could be practiced freely and collectively. If the Puritan Congregational Way was somewhat proto-democratic in its embrace of individualized and voluntary Calvinist idealism, Puritan society also instituted complex techniques for maintaining the social order. As if to ensconce their respective holy experiments within world history, Bradford and Winthrop made the writing of history central to their roles within the New World, authoring texts that left a lasting impression upon historical memory.

Upon arriving on the eastern seaboard of North America, Protestant theologians created a rhetorical reality out of the land and the settlers’ relation to the land as the rightful inheritors of America. Long outliving Puritanism and adapting to the epistemological challenge of the Enlightenment, this rhetorical reality has persisted across four centuries of American history. The Puritan way of reading became a portable hermeneutic, fashioning a myth that persists in the popular imagination as a long-standing testament to the perseverance of the American dream. The legacy of a Puritan hermeneutic—that takes a trained eye to see but that is seductive enough to compel many to believe—persists in certain forms of national exceptionalism that are sustained by types, allegories, and a commitment to scriptural precedent. Some of these rhetorical forms can be traced to Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana, printed in London in 1702. Even when emptied of their religious content, these rhetorical forms are incredibly persuasive. For example, the rupture with England caused by the ocean journey generated a narrative of dissent that became integral to an American literary voice and identity. We can trace this voice of dissent from the Puritans through Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience and beyond. Hardship, setback, solitude, and redemption are all integral features of this voice. No matter how cleverly or consistently our scholarship resists a too easy conflation between the Puritan experiment and the United States that came into existence well after the experiment failed, Puritan ways of reading and the theological imagination that accompanied them have persisted across the centuries to the present day.

Far from our direct descendants, even strictly defined through the construction of the “redeemer nation,” the Puritans are, in many ways, modern America’s historical other. Their world was quite distinct from our own; entering into it requires an astute familiarity with the basic theological tenants of Calvinism, a keen sense of the psychology of original sin, and a critical eye for the narratological and epistemological challenges of uncertain election. Entering into the New England mind requires an understanding of the interlay between soteriology and Christology, between the journey of the individual soul and the progress of Christ, and between history and allegory. We come to perceive the powerfully persuasive world that the Puritans believed to be their reality when we develop our own critical perspective on their history and legacy.

Discussion of the Literature

Scholarship on the Puritans can roughly be grouped into three eras: the founders, the revisionists, and the new Puritan studies. To this day, the study of Puritanism begins with Perry Miller, including his seminal works The New England Mind and Orthodoxy in Massachusetts. Sacvan Bercovith is another important founding voice from the era immediately following Miller’s. Bercovitch penned definitive studies of typology while he also wrote the controversial Puritan Origins of the American Self, which became the source of scholarly critiques of the so-called origins thesis. David Hall’s early work, including The Faithful Shepard also represents one of the foundational voices in Puritan Studies, though his more recent work remains at the forefront of newer paradigms within the field today.28

In the 1980s and 1990s, the concept of Puritanism changed with the introduction of new archives and ways of reading religious texts. Women became an integral component in the work of Amanda Porterfield, Mary Beth Norton, and Laurel Ulrich. Ivy Schweitzer extended this to a gendered analysis of spiritual authority and masculinity. Roger F. Thompson, Janice Knight, Jesper Rosenmeier, Teresea Toulouse, Philip Round, and Francis Bremer continued to advance the field, revising and refining the insights of the first generation of Puritan scholars.

Since the early 2000s, Puritanism has once again been reanimating early Americanist scholarship. In methodology and subject matter, it looks different than previous models. Books such as Michael Winship’s Making Heretics: Militant Protestantism and Free Grace in Massachusetts, 1636–1641, Lisa Gordis’s Opening Scripture: Bible Reading and Interpretive Authority in Puritan New England, Jenny Hale Pulsipher, Subjects unto the Same King: Indians, English, and the Contest for Authority in Colonial New England, Matthew Brown’s The Pilgrim and the Bee, Jonathan Field’s Errands into the Metropolis, Mark Valerie’s Heavenly Merchandize, Sarah Rivett’s The Science of the Soul in Colonial New England, Adrian Weimer’s Martyr’s Mirror, Martha Finch, Dissenting Bodies, Cristobal Silva, Miraculous Plagues, and Abram Van Engen, Sympathetic Puritans. These books include new methodologies such as histories of the book, networks of Atlantic crossings, alternate genealogies of race, new formal approaches to religious genres, and ways of reconfiguring political theology. Absorbing the lessons of Atlantic studies that effectively unmoored the colonial period from the weight of a chronological telos, these new studies decouple histories of America’s religious beginnings from the rise of a secular U.S. nation state. Liberated from this chronological burden, scholars’ geographic lens widened past New England to disparate colonial outposts and European metropoles. In place of a static New England orthodoxy, the circulation and movement of goods, people, and epistemologies have become the preferred method of tracing the capacious contours of religion in 17th and 18th-century worlds that are interesting enough in their own right not to have to inform the grand narratives of U.S. history.29

Primary Sources

Collections of Puritan testimony and spiritual autobiography can be found in McGiffert, God’s Plot: Puritan Spirituality in Thomas Shepard’s Cambridge; Mary Rhinelander McCarl, “Thomas Shepard's Record of Relations of Religious Experience, 1648-1649” in the William and Mary Quarterly; Edmund S. Morgan’s Diary of Michael Wigglesworth. David Shields has an edited collection of Puritan poetry entitled, American Poetry: The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Michael Warner has an edited collection of sermons entitled, American Sermons: From the Pilgrims to Martin Luther King. Notable histories of Puritanism include John Winthrop’s History of New England 1630–1649 and William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation 1620–1647. Sermons, theological treatises, and personal writings have been compiled and printed in The Library of American Puritan Writings.30

Records of the Puritan missions among the northeastern Algonquian have been collected by Michael P. Clark in The Eliot Tracts. See also Laura Arnold Leibman’s Experience Mayhew’s Indian Converts. Records of American Indian writing have been collected by Kristina Bros and Hilary E. Wyss and published in Early Native Literacies in New England.31

For legal and governmental documents, see: Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Winthrop Papers, Vol. 3. Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England; Williston Walker’s The Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism; The Colonial Laws of Massachusetts; Thomas Franklin Waters, Ipswich in the Massachusetts; and David Hall’s, The Antinomian Controversy, 1636–1638.32

General Puritan writings and teaching anthologies include David Hall’s edited collection of The Puritans in the New World; The English Literature of America, edited by Myra Jehlen and Michael Warner; and Giles Gunn’s edition of Early American Writing.33

Further Reading

Bercovitch, Sacvan. Typology and Early American Literature. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1972.Find this resource:

Collinson, Patrick. The Elizabethan Puritan Movement. London: Cape, 1967.Find this resource:

Foster, Stephen. The Long Argument: English Puritanism and the Shaping of New England Culture, 1570–1700. Chapel Hill, NC: Published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1991.Find this resource:

Gordis, Lisa M. Opening Scripture: Bible Reading And Interpretive Authority in Puritan New England. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Hall, David. The Faithful Shepard: A History of the New England Ministry in the Seventeenth Century. Chapel Hill, NC: Published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1972.Find this resource:

Knight, Janice. Orthodoxies in Massachusetts: Rereading American Puritanism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994.Find this resource:

Miller, Perry. New England Mind. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1953.Find this resource:

Morgan, Edmund. Visible Saints: The History of a Puritan Idea. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1965.Find this resource:

Rivett, Sarah. The Science of the Soul in Colonial New England. Chapel Hill, NC: Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2011.Find this resource:

Silva, Cristobal. Miraculous Plagues: An Epidemiology of Early New England Narrative. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.Find this resource:

Valeri, Mark. Heavenly Merchandize: How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010.Find this resource:

Van Engen, Abram. Sympathetic Puritans: Calvinist Fellow Feeling in Early New England. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.Find this resource:


(1.) Tillam sought refuge in New England right before the English Civil War. His poem reveals a characteristic combination of idealism and warning. During the Commonwealth period, he returned to England and wrote several poems. Eventually, he was imprisoned. On release, he became a Baptist and then settled in Heidelberg, Germany, as the leader of a small religious group.

(2.) For a full explanation of the Puritan idea of the Visible Church, which was rooted in the Augustinian concept of the Invisible Church as the body of Christ, see Edmund S. Morgan, Visible Saints: The History of a Puritan Idea (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1965).

(3.) Quote comes from John F. Kennedy’s A Nation of Immigrants (Anti-defamation League, 1959).

(4.) Roger Thompson, Mobility and Migration: East Anglican Founders of New England, 1629–1640 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1994).

(5.) David D. Hall, The Faithful Shepard: A History of the New England Ministry in the Seventeenth Century (Chapel Hill, NC: Published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, by the University of North Carolina Press, 1972).

(6.) Carla Ann McGill, “Thomas Shepard: The Autobiography” in The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 04 December 2002, 64.

(7.) William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620–1647; The Complete Text with Notes and Introduction by Samuel Eliot Morison (New York: Knopf, 1952), 70. Bradford began writing his history in 1630, ten years after arrival in the New World. He reconstructed the early parts of the colony’s history from a series of reports, including Edward Winslow’s Good News from New England (London, 1622).

(8.) Adrian Chastain Weimer, Martyrs’ Mirror: Persecution and Holiness in Early New England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).

(9.) William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620–1647, introduction by Francis Murphy (New York: The Modern Library, 1981), 66.

(10.) Patrick Collinson, The Elizabethan Puritan Movement (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967).

(11.) Perry Miller, Errand into the Wilderness: An Address (Williamsburg, VA: William and Mary Quarterly, 1952).

(12.) Bradford, 34.

(13.) Jesper Rosenmeier, “‘Clearing the Medium’: A Reevaluation of the Puritan Plain Style in Light of John Cotton’s A Practicall Commentary upon the First Epistle Generall of John,” William and Mary Quarterly 37.4 (1980), 577–591.

(14.) Quoted in Carmen Gomez-Galisteo, “Flight from the apocalypse: Protestants, Puritans, and the great migration,” in End of Days: Essays on the Apocalypse from Antiquity to Modernity, edited by Karolyn Kinane and Michael A. Ryan (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, c. 2009), 111.

(15.) See: Jesper Rosenmeier, “New England’s Perfection: The Image of Adam and the Image of Christ in the Antinomian Controversy, 1634 to 1638,” William and Mary Quarterly 27.3 (1970): 435–459.

(16.) Norman Pettit, The Heart Prepared: Grace and Conversion in Puritan Spiritual Life (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1966) and Ivy Schweitzer, The Work of Self-Representation: Lyric Poetry in Colonial New England (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991).

(17.) Patricia Caldwell, Puritan Conversion Narrative: The Beginnings of American Expression (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1983); Charles Cohen, God’s Caress: The Psychology of Puritan Religious Experience (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986); and Sarah Rivett, The Science of the Soul in Colonial New England (Chapel Hill, NC: Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American Studies, 2011).

(18.) The Works of Anne Bradstreet, ed., Jeannine Hensley (Cambridge: Belknap, 1967), 292.

(19.) Phillip H. Round, By Nature and By Custom Cursed: Transatlantic Civil Discourse and New England Cultural Production, 1620–1660 (London: University Press of New England, 1999).

(20.) William Henry Whitmore and the City Council of Boston, The Colonial Laws of Massachusetts: Reprinted from the Edition of 1660, with the Supplements to 1672; Containing also, the Body of Liberties of 1641 (Boston: Rockwell and Churchill, City Printers, 1890), 57 and 59.

(21.) Sermon printed in Giles Gunn, ed., Early American Writing (New York: Penguin Books, 1994), 108–112.

(22.) Thomas Franklin Waters, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Colony (Ipswich, MA: The Ipswich Historical Society, 1825), 87.

(23.) John Eliot, Tears of Repentance (London: Peter Cole, 1653), 2.

(24.) Worcester, American Antiquarian Society MS Notes from Company Records Box 1, fol.1.

(25.) Jean M. O’Brien, Dispossession by Degrees: Indian Land and Identity in Natick, Massachusetts, 1650–1790 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997) 27, 29.

(26.) Eliot’s Indian Library included The Bible, Lewis Bayly’s Practice of Piety, The Indian Primer (London: Allot, 1633), Richard Baxter’s Call to the Unconverted (York: Wilson, Spence, and Mawman, 1657), and John Eliot, A Christian Covenanting Confession (Cambridge, MA, 1670), among other texts.

(27.) Thomas Shepard Jr. Letter, September 9, 1673, Woodrow Collection, Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland.

(28.) Perry Miller, The New England Mind (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1953); Perry Miller, The Establishment of Orthodoxy in Massachusetts (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1934); Sacvan Bercovith, Puritan Origins of the American Self (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1975); David Hall, The Faithful Shepard.

(29.) Michael Winship, Making Heretics: Militant Protestantism and Free Grace in Massachusetts, 1636–1641 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002); Lisa Gordis, Opening Scripture: Bible reading and Interpretive Authority in Puritan New England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003); Jenny Hale Pulsipher, Subjects Unto the Same King: Indians, English, and the Contest for Authority in Colonial New England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005); Matthew P. Brown, The Pilgrim and the Bee: Reading Rituals and Book Culture in Early New England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007); Jonathan Field, Errands into the Metropolis: New England Dissidents in Revolutionary London (Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College Press, 2009); Mark Valerie, Heavenly Merchandize: How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010); Rivett, The Science of the Soul; Adrian C. Weimer, Martyr’s Mirror: Persecution and Holiness in Early New England (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011); Martha L. Finch, Dissenting Bodies: Corporealities in Early New England (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010); Cristobal Silva, Miraculous Plagues: An Epidemiology of Early New England Narrative (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011); and Abram Van Engen, Sympathetic Puritans: Calvinist Fellow Feeling in Early New England (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).

(30.) Thomas Shepard and Michael McGiffert, God’s Plot: Puritan Spirituality in Thomas Shepard’s Cambridge (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1994); Mary Rhinelander McCarl, “Thomas Shepard's Record of Relations of Religious Experience, 1648–1649” William and Mary Quarterly 48.3 (1991): 3; Edmund S. Morgan, ed., Diary of Michael Wigglesworth, (Glouster, MA: Peter Smith, 1970); David Shields, ed., American Poetry: The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (New York: Library of America, 2007); Michael Warner, ed., American Sermons: From the Pilgrims to Martin Luther King (New York: Literary Classics, 1999); John Winthrop, The History of New England, 1630–1649 (Boston: Little, Brown, 1853); William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620–1647 (New York: Knopf, 1952); Library of American Puritan Writings (New York: AMS Press, 1983).

(31.) John Eliot and Michael P. Clark, The Eliot Tracts: With Letters from John Eliot to Thomas Thorowgood and Richard Baxter (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003); Laura Arnold Leibman, Experience Mayhew’s Indian Converts (Amherst: University of Massachusetts, 2008); Kristina Bros and Hilary E. Wyss, Early Native Literacies in New England (Amherst: University of Massachusetts, 2008).

(32.) Arthur Meier Schlesinger, ed., Winthrop Papers, Vol. 3 (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1943). Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, ed., Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England (Boston: From the Press of William White, 1853); Williston Walker, ed., The Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism (New York: Scribner, 1893); Williston Walker, ed., The Colonial Laws of Massachusetts (Boston: Rockwell and Churchill, City Printers, 1890); Thomas Franklin Waters, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Colony; David Hall, ed., The Antinomian Controversy, 1636–1638 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1990).

(33.) David D. Hall, ed., The Puritans in the New World: A Critical Anthology (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004); Myra Jehlen and Michael Warner, eds., The English Literatures of America: 1500-1800 (New York: Routledge, 1997); Gunn, Early American Writing.