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History 2111 research paper - Effect of Puritanism 1...

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Effect of Puritanism 1 Introduction American Puritanism originated from a movement for reform in the Church of England, which had a profound influence on social, political, ethical, and theological ideas of the Americans. Focusing on its impact upon American values, the present paper first discusses the origin and the tenets of Puritanism. The forming of American individualism and democratic thoughts were, obviously, influenced by Puritanism in New England. It also shaped American peoples national character of being hard-working and thrifty, and made them bear a strong sense of mission. Moreover, puritanism rendered Americans devoted to popular education. 1. The Origin of American Puritanism and Its development in America Originally, Puritanism refers to a movement that arose within the Church of England in the latter part of the 16thcentury. It sought to purify, or reform the Church and establish a middle course between Roman Catholicism and the ideas of the Protestant reformers. Those who advocated Puritanism were called Puritans. In England of the 16th century, the Puritans were the more extreme Protestants within the Church. They thought that the religious reformation in England had not gone far enough in reforming the doctrines and structure of the church. They wanted to purify the irnational church by eliminating every shred of Catholic influence. 1 After James I became king of England in 1603, English Puritan leaders asked him to grant more reforms, including abolition of bishops. However, he rejected most of their proposals. Moreover, the English government and the church hierarchy became increasingly repressive. Many Puritans were persecuted and had to emigrate to Europe and the New World. Early in the 17th century Puritanism reached North America with English Puritans who were usually referred to as the English Pilgrims. In 1620 they founded Plymouth Colony. Afterwards more Puritans emigrated and they built more colonies, including Massachusetts (1628), New Hampshire (1629), Connecticut (1633), Maine (1635), Rhode Island (1636), and New Haven (1638). The Puritans brought strong religious beliefs to bear in all colonies north of Virginia. New England became their stronghold, where they sought to found a holy Commonwealth. Puritanism remained the dominant religious force in that area throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. During the whole colonial period Puritanism had direct impact on both religious thought and cultural 1 1 Feldmeth, Greg D, “American Puritanism,” U.S. History Resources” (2004). 58
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Effect of Puritanism 2 patterns in America. By 1640 some 35 churches had been established in New England. The Puritans there maintained the Calvinist distinction between the elect and the damned in their theory of the church, in which membership consisted only of the regenerate minority who publicly confessed their experience of conversion.
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