Winthrop penned his sermon aboard the Arbella, calling
upon his fellow Massachusetts Bay colonists to imagine their future
home "as a city upon a hill," he set forth a blueprint
for a society that, in theory, was to be communal in nature and
free from the corrupt influences of the Church of England. The
early Separatists of Plymouth colony also set out to craft a society
different--and better--than the one they had left. However, the
reality of life in colonial New England, while in some ways reflecting
the utopian spirit of the founding fathers, contained many contradictions.
After all, the earliest Anglo settlers in New England imported
an English world-view that coexisted with their efforts to reform
certain aspects of the society they had left behind. In this session
we will dive deeply into the reasons behind the early Anglo settling
of New England and explore the ideals and realities of life in
Puritan New England as we try to make sense of the complexities
and incongruities of colonial life.
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Kenneth. A New England Town: The First Hundred Years. 2nd edition.
New York: W.W. Norton & Co. 1985.
Salem Covenant of 1629"
2. "The Enlarged Salem Covenant of 1636"
3. "The Dedham Covenant, 1636"
4. "Covenant of Exeter, New Hampshire, July 5, 1639"
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and contrast the covenants for Salem, Dedham, and Exeter. Can
you detect any differences in these compacts, or do they all seem
to represent the typical Puritan town?
2. Why do
you think Salem revised their covenant in 1636?
3. You have
read Dedham's Compact, and read about Dedham. How well did the
Covenant work in practice?
4. From 1636
to 1736, a utopian experiment named "Contentment" became
the Yankee town of Dedham. What were the key factors that led
to the decline of the utopian dream?
New England was supposed to be a "City Upon a Hill."
Was this a utopia for everyone?
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