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The Puritans in the American Soil - Assignment Example

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In the paper “The Puritans in the American Soil” the author looks at Puritanism, which began in the years when Queen Elizabeth I of England ascended to the throne in 1558. Mary, the previous monarch before Elizabeth I, succeeded to restore Catholicism and cripple the Anglican Church…
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The Puritans in the American Soil
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Hence, Church designations such as priests, deacons and archbishops were replaced by pastors and elders who were elected by the Puritan Congregation. Because of a completely different set of beliefs and traditions, the Anglican Church, which was already restored by Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, charged the Puritans as Separatists to the English state religion. It is said that at the beginning of the clash between the Puritans and the Anglicans in England, the Separatists began to flee to Calvinist Holland where Puritanism was well accepted (Streich).
After the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the line of the Stuart kings staged their roles in the English throne. James I, who was responsible for the creation of the King James Bible, sparked the outright uprisings of the Puritan community in England. Because of the stronghold of the Anglican Church within the Stuart monarchy, the king naturally favored the Anglicans over the Puritans who had started to emerge in the English Parliament. What marked the Puritans’ outrage at the Anglicans and at King James I was when the monarch convened a meeting at Hampton Court in 1604. This meeting was a conglomeration of bishops and Puritans where the latter petitioned their grievances to the new king. The Hampton Court Conference ended up as a mishap for the Puritans- it resulted in the dismissal of all Puritan proposals. Because of such an outcome, the Puritans began to lose hope for their voices to be heard by the new king. Also, as King James I’s reign unfolded, the imminent persecution of the Puritans was already felt within the English soil (Streich).
At the death of King James I and the ascension of King Charles I, the repressions against the Puritans have already bloomed. As a general context, England was in a bad state upon King Charles I’s reign. He had both political and fiscal problems on his hands. To add to that, the religious dissensions in England spurred the wrath of the monarch. With so many concerns that relied on Charles I’s decisions, he did not need the Puritans to contradict the state religion of England. The growing numbers of the Puritan followers that caused numerous conflicts with the dominantly Anglican England caught the attention of the king. Hence, persecution by the English throne has deemed a solution to religious disputes (Wedgewood, 29-32).
One of the earliest accounts of migration from England by Puritans was dated in 1609 where the Separatists- as the migrating Puritans were called- left their homeland and transferred to the city of Leiden, Holland to escape the persecution of King James I. With the determination to establish a colony of their own, after a decade these Separatists left Holland and, with the help of English merchants, acquired a patent of land in the New World. In September 1620, the Mayflower ship set sail from Holland on their way to the new colony. Aboard the ships were the Separatists and non-believers alike- consisting of 101 passengers. In December of the same year, the Mayflower arrived at the coast of the new colony, Plymouth. Thus, that same year began the colonization of New England (Block). The migration that began in this year would not stop because the persecution of King James I carried on up to the ascension of King Charles I. King Charles I would be the last Stuart king famous for Puritan persecutions before the establishment of Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth in 1649 and the Stuart restoration of Charles II in 1660 (Hill, 147-149).
Under King Charles I, the parliament was dissolved in 1629 and the dictatorship of the monarch commenced. What entailed this dictatorship was greater persecution of the Puritans. The Puritans who experienced this heightened persecution in the hands of King Charles I in England took advantage of the Massachusetts Bay Colony- chartered in 1629 by a group of moderate Puritans in the lands of the New World. The mentioned colony served as a refuge for the persecuted Puritans who looked for a new life in a foreign land in the West. From 1629 to 1640 marked the peak years of the Great Migration (Block). The Massachusetts Bay Colony was part of the greater New England which was, in the time of Charles I, already a new but established colony of English Separatists who ventured with the Mayflower.
In a span of one decade (1629-1640), about 80,000 Puritans escaped from the clutches of persecution in England. 21,000 of those settled in the refuge of New England’s Massachusetts Bay Colony. The rest were dispersed in countries like the Netherlands, Ireland and the West Indies. The English migrants who settled in the mentioned countries came from the East England counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Herefordshire, Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Lincolnshire, and Kent (Roe). Indeed it can be said that by the great numbers which fled from the English coast, the intensity of the persecutions by King Charles I can be assumed as the worst.
It is interesting to note the types of migrants who fled from England. The majority of the Puritans who transferred to New England where the middle class of English society. These were educated, people. 75 percent of them could sign their own names and most of them could pay for their travel passes. 60 percent of the migrants were skilled craftsmen or tradesmen (Roe). Others comprised of artisans and the like. Only 17 percent of the New Englanders worked as servants (Betlcok). Less than a third of these migrants worked in line with agriculture (Roe). So, it can be said form the statistics presented above that the migration from England was major because of the harsh life brought about by the persecutions due to religious intolerance. Read More
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