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A Reforming People: Puritanism and the Transformation of by David D. Hall

By David D. Hall

During this revelatory account of the folk who based the recent England colonies, historian David D. corridor compares the reforms they enacted with these tried in England through the interval of the English Revolution. Bringing with them a deep worry of arbitrary, limitless authority, those settlers dependent their church buildings at the participation of laypeople and insisted on "consent" as a premise of all civil governance. Puritans additionally remodeled civil and felony legislations and the workings of courts with the purpose of creating fairness. during this political and social heritage of the 5 New England colonies, corridor presents a masterful second look of the earliest moments of recent England's heritage, revealing the colonists to be the simplest and bold reformers in their day.

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Additional resources for A Reforming People: Puritanism and the Transformation of Public Life in New England

Sample text

But, like their counterparts in the Long Parliament, the colonists struggled 23 A REFORMING PEOPLE with a series of questions that successive regimes in revolutionary England could not resolve: Where did sovereignty lie, and what was the proper balance between authority (government) and liberty? The resonance of these questions owed something to debates within continental humanism and the historical examples of republican Venice, princely Florence, and the wars of religion in sixteenthcentury France.

12 In recent years, the “orthodoxy” of the 8 Introduction colonists has come under fire for being patriarchal and imperialistic. One way or another, the image and idea of Puritans as excessively authoritarian remains alive and well, sustained by present-day expectations about diversity and, for interpreters who descend from Parrington, a secular or theological liberalism that emphasizes the rights of each individual. Of course it is not so simple. Never for a moment did the colonists assume that they were practicing democratic politics of the kind Americans would attempt in the nineteenth century.

To say that they succeeded is quite different from saying that reform happened easily, or that the principal actors in the story were satisfied with the outcome. It takes only a grain of common sense and a glance back at the past to make us realize that reform is always and everywhere a complicated process—consider, for instance, the history of anti-slavery before the American Civil War. Reformers have to wrestle with the irony that their projects may (and almost certainly will) have unexpected consequences.

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