January 29, 2008
JOHN WINTHROP AND POLITICAL PURITANISM
Practicality of Puritanism
Necessity of government
Man is evil – everything comes out of this. The way men and
women dealt with one another, the way the education system runs,
etc. If man is evil, then he needs to be governed. When they came
to the New World there was no government and the Puritans had
the chance to start all over again. They got to make the rules as
they went along, even more so than the Pilgrims, because the
Pilgrims were living on land owned by a trading company.
Power corrupts – need to have power to control man, and have a
government that has sufficient power, but, your need purity.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely and the whole reason for being
in the New World is gone. However, if you don’t have enough
power to protect your church, someone could come in and take
over. There needs to be a balance of power and purity. The
Pilgrims struggled with having excessive purity.
Plymouth as pure
Early life – was the first governor in Massachusetts Bay, and was
governor for the rest of his life. He was saturated in his particular form of
Puritanism. Came from SE England from a pretty well known family. His
father was a lawyer, as well as a landowner. The family was as
mainstream as you could get, they supported the king and wanted John to
get into a position of power. They sent John to Cambridge to become a
lawyer and when he came back, he was a lawyer and a Puritan (Cambridge
was full of puritans)
College graduate, convert –
Royal Court of Wards – was a lawyer here, deals with women and
children who do not have a male (grandfather, uncle, father) and
are left to the Wards. Winthrop’s job was to protect widows and
orphans, and what he found there was that England was totally
rotten. He found out that this court was just an extortion scheme, to
get the money from the women and give it to these wealthy men.
Religious prejudice – as well as the above corruption,
Winthrop was fired for being a Puritan.
Economic and religious threats – Charles the I embodied these
threats, spend so much money. when Parliament wouldn’t give
Charles money, he would extort money until he got what he
wanted. He was the one who sold the land to the Massachusetts
Bat company, because he needed the money. Charles also began