Question: In what ways did ideas and values held by Puritans influence the political, economic, and social development of the New England colonies from 1620 through the 1690s?
The Puritan community positively and negatively influenced the New England colonies. When they first settled in America, they faced countless hardships that seemed to only increase their sense of religiosity. However, the colonies would not have been successful without them.
Puritan beliefs helped to both introduce and spread the idea of representative government. The Massachusetts Bay Company, a joint stock company owned by Puritan merchants, was given a royal charter to settle in New England in 1629. Self- government was also permissible by this charter. Taking advantage of this privilege, the Puritans created self-governing congregations, or groups of people that belong to the same church. Each congregation had a minister and town. The most imperative building in one of these congregations was the meetinghouse. In the meetinghouse, routine town meetings would take place, thus developing their form of democracy. Although the charter allowed only “freemen” to vote, John Winthdrop, the colony’s first governor, altered this to only permit male church members to have voting rights. These men had the opportunity elect their governor and legislature. This idea of self-government expanded throughout Massachusetts and into Connecticut. The democratic practices introduced by Puritans influenced the political attitudes of Americans for years to come, and significantly altered the course of U.S. history.
As for economics, Puritans developed a very diverse and successful economy that cultivated international trade. Within congregations, farmers sold to produce to shopkeepers, who in turn sold enough goods to make a living.
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