A Tale of Two Johns
Many early American writers had similar visions of life in America. Some were driven by religion and others by the desire for exploration. In this, two notable early American writers stand apart from the rest. John Winthrop was born in England to a prosperous family and went on to be very wealthy by his own accord but not before making his way to America and becoming one of the leading figure in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. John Smith was born to a less prestigious family in England, but a passion for exploring sent him away from his home and eventually to America as an important figure in the foundation of Virginia. They both wrote extensively of their time in America and they share many similarities, but just as many differences. The differences between John Winthrop and John Smith are very obvious. Their fundamental religious beliefs are radically different. While Winthrop was a steadfast Puritan, John Smith was a Catholic. The strength of their religious beliefs are also very different. John Winthrop was a very faithful Puritan with strong beliefs. He was so deeply religious that he delivered a sermon while aboard the ship headed to America, describing how the Puritans needed to be godly and a, “city upon a hill,” (Winthrop 86) for other cultures to look at and praise. John Smith is far less religious and much more of a storyteller. Smith makes allusions to God but doesn’t use it as a major motivating force in his explorations. He had an insatiable appetite for exploration which is best exemplified in his coat of arms. His coat of arms contained the heads of three severed heads of Turkish men. Smith had previously served as a captain in a war against the Ottoman Turks. The coat of arms also contained the phrase, “vincere est vivere,” which translates to, “to conquer is to live.” (Lord) Their writing is very similar in some ways because of the use of typology. Both Winthrop and Smith allude to God and use...
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