Puritans: Protestants Who Purified the Wrongdoings of Their Church in England

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The Americas were rapidly colonized in the 1600s by many different groups, such as the Puritans. Puritans were protestants who wanted to be purified from the wrongdoings of their church in England, so they went to America for a fresh start. The values and beliefs possessed by Puritans helped shape the political, economic, and social developments of the New England colonies throughout the 1600s.

The Puritans believed that the traditional church hierarchy and rituals were unnecessary, so instead they governed themselves during congregations. This politically affected the colonies because they applied this same principle of self-government on how to rule the colonies, and separated themselves from England by exporting raw materials and paying a fee to the crown each year. Another major belief held by Puritans was the idea of Predestination. This meant that a person's fate (whether or not they would go to heaven) was predetermined, and good works and a strong faith were signs of salvation. This made many Puritans strongly religious, and caused them to set up a theocracy-like government style in which the church was the main authority of the colonies. For example, in Massachusetts church members were the only ones who could vote or hold office and passed laws requiring attendance at church services. The theory of predestination also affected the colonies economically.

Puritans also had a strong work ethic and held the belief that idleness was a sin, which was a sign that a person would not receive salvation. They also held the belief that one could lead a “New Testament life” and still make a profit. In fact, success was another sign of possible salvation. These beliefs encouraged Puritans to try and set up small plantations and trading networks with the native Americans. For example, the Pilgrims set up a fur-trade system with the natives and incoming settlers to try and eliminate the debts the creation of their colony produced. Although they were never...
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