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

By mcooke Dec 09, 2012 569 Words
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 profitable, this helped the Puritans generate small local economies and markets to trade within.

Lastly, Puritans held many beliefs that greatly affected the social development of the colonies. They valued the traditional Patriarchal family structure, where the husband was the leader of the family and women were supposed to be subordinate to men. They also believed that a strong family structure maintained order within the communities, and were supposed to transmit religious beliefs within the colonies. Another important belief held by Puritans was that the rich had an obligation to help the poor, and the poor had an obligation to obey the rich. This set up a social hierarchy system in which they believed was the natural order of things, and was even divinely ordained. They also believed that they must establish a strong community, instead of a colony, because of a covenant with God. Lastly, they believed that the Bible was a complete guide to life. But, people must be able to read and interpret the bible, so education was necessary to be able to understand the bible and function in their normal daily lives. All of these beliefs and values helped shape the social aspect of the New England colonies.

All in all, Puritans set up a theocracy-like government system within the colonies, had a strong work ethic and desire for success, and based their daily lives on teachings from the bible, which all ultimately affected the forming of the colonies.

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