The Massachusetts Bay Colony During the first half of the seventeenth century

The massachusetts bay colony during the first half of

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The Massachusetts Bay Colony During the first half of the seventeenth century, religious and political oppression in England grew worse. In 1628, the Puritans struck a deal with the English government, under which the Puritans would leave England and settle north of the Plymouth Plantation on the condition that they would have political control of their colony. The Puritans wanted their colony to be a theocracy, and emphasized religion over trade. In 1630, under the leadership of John Winthrop, who had been elected governor, about 900 Puritans traveled to Massachusetts. These Puritans eventually settled at the site of modern-day Boston. Winthropʼs colony was a community based on the Bible. He saw Massachusetts Bay as “a city upon a hill,” a beacon of religious righteousness that would shine throughout the world. As happened in most settlements, the colonists were unprepared for the first winter and almost one-third of the settlers died. But by mid-1631, the colonists had put the worst behind them and the Massachusetts Bay Colony began to thrive. Government of Massachusetts Bay The Massachusetts Bay colony was initially run by a General Court that allowed membership only to landholding Puritan men. After public outcry, all Puritan freemen, regardless of wealth or holdings, were allowed entrance. As the number of settlers increased and the General Court became too large, the settlers established a representative government, electing two representatives from each district to the General Court. Religion and Massachusetts Bay The Massachusetts Bay Colony operated according to a system called congregationalism, in which each independent church congregation served as the center of a communityʼs political and social life. Only those individuals with good standing in the church could participate in government. Some inhabitants, however, broke with the Puritan leaders over the strong relationship between church and state. One such dissenter was Roger Williams. Unlike those in power, who believed that there must be legal separation but substantial cooperation between church and state, Williams argued that total separation was necessary. He feared that without separation the state would corrupt the church. In 1635, Williams was banished from Massachusetts. He eventually established the colony of Rhode Island in 1647, where the government renounced the Church of England and permitted religious freedom. Another dissenter was Anne Hutchinson, whose religious teachings were taken by some to be attacks on Puritan religious codes. Hutchinson found support in Henry Vane, who had become governor of the colony after Winthrop left office. But Winthrop staunchly opposed Hutchinson and succeeded in ousting Vane from office. In 1637, Hutchinson and her followers were banished; most of them settled in Rhode Island. The Colonial Economy: Mercantilism Beginning around 1650, the British government pursued a policy of mercantilism in international trade. Mercantilism stipulates that in order to build
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economic strength, a nation must export more than it imports. To achieve this favorable balance of trade, the English passed regulatory laws exclusively benefiting the British economy. These laws created a trade system whereby
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