Puritans Essay

In the early 17th century, the Puritan community was split into two groups: Separatist Puritans and the non- Separatist Puritans. The Separatist Puritans viewed the English society around them as tarnished because the Anglican Church along with the King was forcing their beliefs upon them. The Separatist Puritans argued that it was beyond an individual’s or any church authority’s control to instill a faith upon one who did not believe in it The non-Separatist Puritans did not tolerate those who questions their religious teachings and quickly exiled those who dared to question from the Bay colony. The Separatist Puritans fled to the New World in the beginning of the 17th century. In 1629, a group of non-Separatist Puritans secured a charter from King Charles to form the Massachusetts Bay Company which was primarily intended to be a business venture, but instead turned out to be used as a refuge for Puritans. Although the Puritan’s political, social, and economic ideas influenced the New England colonies between 1630 and 1660, there was a greater political influence in that the Puritan churches and society was represented by male church members in order to form a theocracy. There was also a great social influence in that the Puritans valued their work ethic. While there were still some economic influences from the Puritans in forms of trading and farming, it was not as great of an influence as their political and social.

The Puritans economically influenced the New England colony by the means of farming and trading. For majority of the New Englanders, farming was the significant way to make a living. Farming was really hard to do because the New Englanders were not making enough to prosper through farming. The farmers along with their wives would set out to work for two months just to clear the rocks out from the soil. There was a short period of growing season and the cultivated crops never reached surplus. However fishers were successful in providing surplus product that could be sold in England. Beginning around the 1650s, the British government issued a policy of mercantilism in oversea trade, where the New Englanders would provide raw goods to England. British mercantilism established itself in the form of the triangular trade which were trade routes that connected the American colonies, West Indies Africa, and England.

Another way that the Puritans influenced the New England colony is by their idea of the “Protestant work ethic,” which commits them to work hard to prosper in their community. This ties into economic influence because the New Englanders believed that those who worked hard were successful and favored by god, while those who were lazy and poor are not in gods favor. The Puritans work ethics motivated the New Englanders to work hard in farming and trading to prosper in their colony.

The New Englanders were politically influenced by the Puritans and it is evident in the way that the New Englanders used a representative government. Since religion was very important to the New Englander, they instill their trust in to the elderly male church members to represent them and make their towns decision. The Puritans influenced the colony by basing their political foundation on a theocratic government. Coming from a more religious perspective, the colony’s theocratic government was also the one who set the moral codes. The addition of morality also led to disagreements between the church and a few Puritans who questioned the ideas of the church. In fact, Roger Williams who was a preacher challenged the churches authority and was banished from the Puritans colony. Known as a dissident, Williams immigrated to Massachusetts Bay and formed his own colony with a group of followers.

If it wasn’t for the Puritans banishing Williams, there would not be a New England. Another example of how the Puritans influenced the New Englanders is by the churches strict enforcements of prohibiting drinking, gambling, and swearing. The Puritans believed in predestination and they did not challenge the laws of the church. Towns throughout New England based their political rule on a model that was set forth by the elderly male members in the church.

The New Englanders were socially influenced by the Puritans in that they were based around churches and believed that togetherness was the key. The Puritans emphasis on family, and moreover their community and religious foundation which was what kept their colony intact. Because the colony was based on religion, the New England men were said to be the most literate men in all of the colonies. Since the churches were run by male church members the New Englanders valued education because they did not want an illiterate minister make all the decisions for the colony. The New Englanders also their valued family and more importantly their wife. The Puritans idea of a woman’s role was not just as a mother and a cook, but they also had the role of farming and becoming seamstresses. Everyone in the community contributed to the growth of the society. Even from the New Englanders settlement, the houses were built around churches and each landlord had a farm which benefitted the family and the community.

This is an example of Winthrop’s idea in having a community in which all the colonials worked together for the better of the society. In conclusion the ideas and values held by the Puritans greatly impacted and influenced the political, social, and economic development of New England. By farming and fishing they were able to set a economic structure for their colony’s wealth and betterment along with the Puritans idea of “protestant work ethic” that led New England to mercantilism. In political development, the Puritan influenced the Puritans to establish a theocratic government and lastly the social development sprang from the Puritans values of family and a close knit community. It was clear that the Puritan greatly influenced the New Englanders economically, politically and socially through their ideas and values.