The Puritan pilgrims as a society based many of their practices and customs on religion. Once in America and away from the prejudices they faced in England they were able to freely practice their beliefs as they saw fit. This led to a very strict society in which members were expected to live and behave according the theological rules which they had set for themselves. This strict society also directly influenced the way children were brought up and educated in New England.
Since the pilgrims followed the writings and teachings of John Calvin they believed all men have predetermined destinies set for them at birth by God. In order to be "saved" in the afterlife they must live their lives according to God's will and in a sense, fulfill his plan for them. Another strong factor as to why their society must be so reformed is the fact that they were in a new world. They must create a "new" England for themselves and build an uncorrupted society for their people. They saw themselves as "a saving remnant' chosen by God to preserve the true faith in America and inspire religious change in England" (Henretta et. al. 53). To achieve these ideals the settlers must instill the same values they held true in their children so that future societies could lead faithful lives in New England.
Since the children were highly educated in religion this directly affected the way they behaved. Even the laws of their communities were deeply rooted in religion. The Bible was established as a legal guide and instances where there was no law, local magistrates should rule "as near the law of God as they can" (Henretta et. al. 54). So, to live properly in this society according to its laws a child must live in a Godly fashion. This insured the survival of their people's way of living and the peaceful conditions under which the pilgrims operated their governments would last for all future generations of inhabitants.
Henretta, James, David Brody and Lynn Dumenil....
Cited: Henretta, James, David Brody and Lynn Dumenil. "Puritan New England." In America: A Concise History. Vol. 1, 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin 's, 2002.
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