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Puritanism And Pragmatism Essay

707 words - 3 pages

Although they lived on the same continent, John Winthrop and Benjamin Franklin lived in very different worlds. These men are similar in some respects, but overwhelmingly they are different. For example, John Winthrop and Benjamin Franklin can be considered leaders in their time frame. Winthrop led the Puritans; Franklin led his country to war. Both men also possessed many of the same virtues such as patience and work ethic. Despite these similarities, John Winthrop and Benjamin Franklin had a different style of living and a different philosophy of life. These differences are most notable in regards to religion, economics, and science.
     Perhaps the greatest difference between Winthrop and Franklin was their view of religion. Winthrop, a devout Puritan, governed Massachusetts Bay. Every aspect of life in a Puritan colony revolved around religion. The most important thing in order to establish Winthrop’s “city upon a hill,” “was the need for the people to obey their governors and for the governors to obey God. If they did, God would adopt and protect the wilderness colony as He had the ancient Jews” (Nash & Graves 31). Puritanism reflects the notion of pre-destination, indoctrinated by Calvinism, in which there are only two kinds of people: the elect and the non-elect. The elect were the people, usually ministers and high-ranking officers, who have been chosen by God to go to Heaven. The non-elect then, were the people who were not chosen. Franklin was not a Puritan. He believed that good deeds could earn one’s way into Heaven; thus, he did not accept pre-destination. Franklin’s view of religion was not, “the worship of God or even salvation, but humankind’s well-being on earth” (57). Certainly, the religious philosophies of Winthrop and Franklin contrasted greatly.
     Another difference between these two men was their views on money. The economic growth of the region contributed to the downfall of Puritanism and the overall change of Boston. Nash and Graves write, “The ninety years that separated Winthrop’s Boston from Franklin’s had witnessed a gradual erosion of spiritual energies. The initial New England ideal of a closely knit, covenanted community proved...

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