Fewer New England colonists were servants, and here women were just as numerous as men, leading to more families than in the southern colonies. [An early seventeenth-century engraving shows the English explorer Bartholomew Gosnold encountering Native Americans. Gosnold landed at Cape Cod in 1602 and then established a small outpost on nearby Cuttyhunk Island. The region’s Indians had much experience with Europeans before Pilgrims settled there]. [Seal of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Indian’s scanty attire suggests a lack of civilization. His statement “Come Over and Help Us,” based on an incident in the Bible, illustrates the English conviction that they were liberating the native population, rather than exploiting them as other empires had]. The Puritan Family In New England, families and the patriarchal authority of the Puritan husband and father defined colonial society. These adult men controlled the labor of women and children in a farming society without large numbers of slaves or indentured servants. Though women were held to be spiritual equals to men, and could become full members of the church, women were legally subservient to male authority in the home. The average New England woman married young, gave birth seven times, and spent most of her life bearing and raising children. Government and Society in Massachusetts/Church and State in Puritan Massachusetts Puritans feared excessive individualism and social disorder, and organized themselves in small and compact, self-governing towns, centered on a Congregational Church and eventually a school (mostly for reading the Bible), surrounded by small house and farming lots for individual families. The colony’s government reflected this religious and social vision. The Massachusetts Bay’ Company’s shareholders transformed their commercial charter into a government document, first choosing the colony’s rulers, but in 1634 deputies elected by freemen (landowning church members) constituted a single legislature, the General Court. Ten years later, company officers and elected deputies were divided into two legislative houses, and unlike in Virginia or Maryland, freemen were able to elect their governor. The principle of consent was central to all of Puritan life, including church and state, but Puritan democracy, especially voting in colony-wide elections, was limited to members of the church, an ever-smaller number as the colony grew over time. [The Savage Family, a 1779 painting by the New England artist Edward Savage, depicts several generations of a typically numerous Puritan family]. [An embroidered banner depicting the main building at Harvard, the first college established in the English colonies. It was probably made by a Massachusetts woman for a husband or son who attended Harvard].
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