Chapter Three: Settling the Northern Colonies
(1619 - 1700)
The Protestant Reformation Produces Puritanism
Denouncing the authority of popes and priests,
the Bible was the sole source of God's words, igniting a fire of
religious reform (
) that divided peoples, toppled
sovereigns and kindled the spiritual fervor of millions of men and women.
of Geneva furthered Luther's ideas.
dominant theological philosophy not only of New England Puritans but also
of others such as the Scottish
, the French
Dutch Reformed Church
Calvin wrote out his doctrine in a Latin tome in 1536, titled Institutes
of the Christian Religion. His points:
God was all-powerful, all-good.
Humans are weak and wicked because of the original sin.
God was all-knowing.
Some people had been predestined for eternal bliss, others for
eternal torment, but no one knows what they are.
Good deeds can't save those bound to go to hell, bad deeds CAN
drop a person predestined for heaven to hell.
Calvinists constantly sought signs of "conversion," that they were bound
for heaven. Calvinists were expected to lead sanctified lives.
These swept into England just as Henry VIII was breaking his ties with
the Roman Catholic Church, making himself head of the Church of England.
Some people wanted to completely purify English Christianity –
Calvinism fed on social unrest and provided spiritual comfort to the
All Puritans believed that only "visible saints" should be admitted to
church membership. But the Church of England enrolled all the king's
subjects, meaning that the "holy" and the "damned" had to share pews.
Appalled by this, a tiny group of extremist Puritans, known as
, vowed to break away entirely from the Church of England.
King James I
was king from 1603 to 1625 – he thought that if his subjects
could defy him as the spiritual leader, they could defy him as their
political leader. He thus ran the more bothersome separatists out of
The Pilgrims End Their Pilgrimage at Plymouth
The most famous congregation of separatists departed for Holland in 1608.
For the next twelve years, they were distressed by their poverty, toil,
and watching their children becoming less and less English.
They wanted somewhere where they could live and die as English Puritans.
A group of them, after negotiating rights with the Virginia Company,
secure rights to settle under its jurisdiction.
Their ship, the
, after 65 days at sea, missed its destination
and arrived off the rocky coast of New England in 1620, with 102 people;
one had died (unusually short casualty list) and one was born.
Fewer than half were separatists. Prominent among the non-separatists was