History Paper Prompt

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Paper Prompt #1 Document No. 7

Two different types of liberty are recognized in John Winthrop’s speech to the Massachusetts general court, natural liberties and civil liberties. Winthrop also uses an analogy of women to explain his understanding of liberty. Winthrop considers natural liberties dangerous for many reasons, but he mainly argues nobody enforces natural liberty which makes them dangerous, while doing so he uses an analogy to the status of women to promote his idea and understanding of civil liberties.

Our nature is corrupt according to Winthrop which is why our “natural” liberty is dangerous. Winthrop say’s “the exercise and maintaining of this liberty (natural) makes men grow more evil, and in time to be worse than brute beasts….(VF 30)” Essentially Winthrop believed natural liberties were good, but lack of morals and general human nature would make natural liberty too dangerous because over time humans wouldn’t establish any morals or values, eventually turning into “brute beasts.” Winthrop even goes as far as to say natural liberty is “that great enemy of truth and peace (VF 30).” He feels very strongly that natural liberty is dangerous because there’s no authority to regulate or enforce the ordinance of God. Although natural liberties are “incompatible and inconsistent with authority, and cannot endure the least restraint of the most just authority (VF 30)” according to Winthrop, civil liberties also referred to as federal liberties are much more favorable.

Civil liberties are found in the bond between God and man. Civil liberty motivate society to establish morals and act in a way that God would believe is “right.” Winthrop believed “this liberty (civil) is the proper end and object of authority (VF 30).” People need laws and rules to follow as well as a government to enforce these rules which is essentially what civil liberty demonstrates. Winthrop’s description of civil liberty focuses highly on religion, he stated...
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