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Winthrop Book Review

1172 words - 5 pages

The Puritan Dilemma by Edmund S. Morgan does an excellent job at illuminating the life story of a man who has been unrightfully forgotten by history. Morgan tells of how Winthrop caught the fever of Puritanism early and how he became the man who helped to found Massachusetts and then to eventually keep it afloat. Morgan’s thesis is that Puritanism swept this young man from England and led him on a path of decisions that made his life worthy of being in the history book. Morgan starts off by telling what it takes to be a Puritan, and then tells how he eventually left England to settle in America. It’s the Puritanism that is the constant in Winthrop’s life.
Morgan started telling the reader ...view middle of the document...

This was truly the dilemma of a Puritan in the 16th century, to reach and stride for the unobtainable.
It was this quest for perfection in an imperfect world that moved the Puritans out of England and into the soon to be United States. Winthrop along with many other Puritans were in a group called non-separatists. Who believed that England was the homeland and that their fellow Englishmen were their brothers, and it would take more than the Plymouth Pilgrims to separate from England. In fact it took a lot of convincing for Winthrop to finally move to New England and help run the new colony. It was this final fact that pushed Winthrop across the Atlantic, “By the general consent of the Company, that the government and patent should bee setled in New England (Morgan 43). The ability to govern themselves has a huge selling point to Winthrop, he thought this was his loophole to be able to leave his fellow Englishmen and in his mind he would not be abandoning them. Winthrop’s another big reason for leaving was he believed that his group would show England what they could become and then he could return with his settlers and magically fix the corrupt nation. He even stated while still on the Arbella to New England that he and his settlers would be God’s city upon a hill, and would be the beacon of light in their dark times.
When Winthrop finally arrived he was in a position of authority, but he learned quickly that there would some issues in punishment. There were very strict rules at this time not only could people not live alone by themselves, but there were no true police but rather a watching eye of the town policing themselves. This however led to the most difficult people to govern not being the people who actually break laws or were sinful, but rather the over zealots who became impossible to control. Morgan shows this when he writes
Winthrop avoided such errors of judgment himself. But many men who had not learned the lesson were determined to set up more sins than God did, because they did not know the limits of man’s ability These well-meaning zealots failed to recognize that God’s kingdom on earth must still be a kingdom of flesh and blood, and their misdirected zeal soon...

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