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The Ideal Puritan Society Essay

1195 words - 5 pages

John SwiftThe Ideal Puritan SocietyPuritans thought of themselves as members of the Church of England. Disgusted with the tainted modern religious practices, puritans tried to change that institution. They soon became frustrated with the lack of successful reform as English kings James I and Charles I persecuted them. The Puritans migrated to the New World to create a nation according to their own beliefs. The Puritan Society was a very restrictive and socially constrictive one. Massachusetts Bay Colony was organized in 1628 by Puritans and in 1629, five ships carried the first Puritan settlers to their first settlement, Salem, (Bremer, 34). Most of the Puritans settled in the New England area as they immigrated and formed individual colonies, their numbers rose from 17,800 in 1640 to 106,000 in 1700 (Bremer 45).The Puritan Society was benchmarked by many different factors. Every member of the society had a strict role to fill. Any one who fell outside of their appropriate role in society was insulted, or even tortured to death. Gender, class, and race all contributed to a person's social position. Puritans strict literary interpretation of the bible and firm belief in predestination helped lay a foundation for the ideal "City on a hill" as explained by John Winthrop, a puritan thinker and Massachusetts Bay Colony governor.Men were supposed to be dominant over women. They also thought that women were not to be able to survive without a man. Puritans believed that females could not be truly touched by God; therefore, men were the only ones able to own land or become congregational leaders in the church. Moreover, Puritans assumed that any female who dared to speak the word of God must truly be a utensil of the devil. White Puritan Protestants were inherently superior to any other religion or race.These holy rich men, free of original sin, were the only ones allowed to commune with God. Any one who preached a religion different from the Puritan holy man was also thought to be a servant of the devil. The Puritan ruling class of holy white males lashed out at those who threatened them. They persecuted any women who held land, any who preached religion, or who subscribed to a different religion, (Bremer 154). In the eyes of the Puritan, God specifically made individuals of other white ethnic backgrounds less holy.The holy Puritan men lashed out many persecutions. "Puritan children were taught from an early age that mankind was divided naturally by race, each race having certain physical and mental characteristics which had remained fundamentally unchanged throughout history," (Olmstead 245). A child influenced by this ongoing discrimination would not expect the black race to take an equal place in American civilization. To Puritans, all of the geographic features divided mankind into a racial hierarchy with the white race at the top and the black at the bottom. The superiority of the white race was taken for granted. "A well established law of...

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