When searching for the reasons things fall, one can usually find the causes planted in the thing itself. Puritanism was established as the power in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, but over time that power was eroded and eventually it was destroyed. While many things contributed to it’s eventual destruction, three causes in particular have their seed planted within Puritanism which caused to to crash to earth from its lofty perch. The need for education, ingrained in Puritanism, open the door for unconventional ideas. The Puritan principle of needing to be a visible saint made it too big to fail. The belief that successfulness is given by God presented new and more problems for the Puritans in New England.
Education was a key part of Puritanism when it was established in New England. Before arriving in the new world John Winthrop and other leaders of the exodus set out what they thought would be required of them in God’s special commision. In what they, wrote they talked about what role education would play in their society. The established that, “Parents were obliged to take care that all their children and apprentices learned to read”(Morgan 71). Edmund S. Morgan related what they established in this part of his book The Puritan Dilemma. He shows how from the very beginning education, especially the ability to read and write was taught to every Puritan child at a young age.
The Puritans found it necessary to educate every child for a variety of reasons. Morgan narrows down the reason to a simple point, “so that everyone would be able to see for himself in the Bible what opportunities for salvation God offered to man and what sins He forbade”(Morgan 71). The Puritans used mainly two texts to teach small children, first the bible, and their catechesis. Both of these texts taught them what God wanted them to know, or rather, what the Puritan leaders wanted the common man or woman to know about God. The common child was taught the ways of their religion and what was good or bad, whether they were boy or girl. As they grew older, the gender gap of the society became more realised. The girls teaching at home usually ended once they had learned to read the bible and catechesis. A boy’s however, depending on his ambitions, might continue to learn the classic languages, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, and even the great works of literature written in those tongues.
Not all teaching happened at home however. An enactment by the general court provided for free public schools. It was made law that, “towns of more than fifty families were required to provide elementary education”(Kennedy 73). However, this was not always successful, as only half of the adults knew how to read and write, according to Kennedy. If a boy had a scholarly intention, he might attend one of these public school, or at a private preparatory tutor. If he was gifted enough he might attend Harvard College. This college, the first in America, was establish only six years after the colony...