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The Puritans were a religious group that came to North America in search of religious freedom, and, in the process, greatly impacted the North American church, government, education, social mores, and economy. Many of the things that they implemented in the first colonies are still seen today in the social and governmental structures of the United States. Their beliefs and traditions are still practiced today and many social mores are still being adhered to, even now.
The Puritans first became a sect in England, where they became dissatisfied with the Church of England and sought reform. They led a civil war but their victory was short-lived and they came to North America to escape persecution. “The Puritans believed that the Bible was God’s true law and that it provided a plan for living.” They wanted to live according to this belief and that is what brought the separation between them and the Church of England. For the Puritans, God was to be the motivation of all their actions (Kizer, Kay). They believed in piousness, righteousness, and hard work. (Campbell, Douglas).
One of the Puritans’ greatest impacts was on church, or religion. They taught religious exclusiveness and spiritual unity which still remain today and can be seen throughout the various denominations of Christianity, such as exclusiveness with the Seventh Day Adventists or Jehova Witnesses. The Puritans held fast to the belief of John Calvin in predestination and followed a harsh interpretation of
scripture. They emphasized redemptive piety and individual responsibility to God (Kizer, Kay). Many of these beliefs are still reinforced today in Christian churches in a variety of ways.
Another area in which the Puritans were influential is the area of government. It was the Puritans who set up one of the first governments in North America. Their government was in the form of a republic, which later became a model for the United State’s future government. They came up with the idea of two houses of representatives that could pass bills and as we can see in the U.S. government today, their idea stuck (Chamber, ). Even though their government was a republic, the Puritans pushed the principles of democracy. Their ideals, such as freedom, liberty, and religion, became a base for our society today. The Puritans also left a legacy of conservatism which remains an important factor in North American government today (The Social Studies Help Center). What’s more, Puritan influence helped shape North American constitutional and common laws, such as “Congress shall make no laws establishing religion…” (McGowan et al. v. Maryland).
The Puritans’ greatest lasting impact was on education. They believed that education was important in order to understand the Bible, and therefore stressed the education of all persons. Religious zeal was the main drive for establishing a system of education. As stated in Puritanism in Early American History,...