1 Bria_29_1: layout 1 10/22/2013 4:56 PM Page 1. Click to Rate This Resource Bill of Rights in Action Constitutional Rights Foundation FALL 2013 Volume 29 No 1. PURITAN MASSACHUSETTS: THEOCRACY OR DEMOCRACY? IN THE 1630S, ENGLISH PURITANS IN. MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY CRE- ATED A SELF-GOVERNMENT THAT. WENT FAR BEYOND WHAT EXISTED. IN ENGLAND. SOME HISTORIANS. ARGUE THAT IT WAS A RELIGIOUS. GOVERNMENT, OR THEOCRACY. OTHERS. CLAIM IT WAS A DEMOCRACY. In 1534, King Henry VIII of England broke with the Roman Wikimedia Commons Catholic Church and established the Church of England (the Angli- can Church). This Protestant church rejected the authority of the Catholic Pope but kept many prac- JOHN F. PARAMINO'S Relief sculpture is the Founders Memorial in Boston, Massachusetts.
2 Tices of Roman Catholicism, such It shows Boston's first resident, William Blackstone, greeting John Winthrop. as worship rituals, many sacra- ments (sacred customs such as was over the afterlife and how one signs of their salvation (being baptism), and bishops who gov- was saved from the fires of hell. saved), such as success in life or an erned the church. The Anglican Church taught that a appearance of godliness. The An- By 1600, a growing group of believer in Christ had to follow glican Church, however, rejected Anglican Church members, or An- church teachings and sacraments Calvin's teaching. glicans, thought their church was in order to be saved. Most Puritans, The Puritans gathered in differ- too much like the Catholic Church, however, adopted the teachings of ent groups and made a covenant which they condemned as a false John Calvin, a major leader of the (formal agreement) with God to church.
3 Many Anglicans were Protestant Reformation in Europe. obey his will as revealed in the called Puritans because they Calvin taught that God alone Bible. In these covenant commu- wanted to purify the church and chose or elected those who would nities, they focused on Bible read- make it simpler. receive salvation and those who ing, preaching, and following A key difference between the would not. The Puritans believed God's biblical laws. Puritans and the other Anglicans God would give them outward Errand into the Wilderness Back in England, the Puritans GOVERNANCE were increasingly troubled that so This edition of Bill of Rights in Action focuses on governance. The first article exam- many people did not follow God's ines self-government in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
4 The second article reviews Cleopatra's means of restoring the dynasty of the Ptolemies. The final article presents laws as written in the Bible. The connections between the Constitution and the first state constitutions. Puritans feared that God would History: Puritan Massachusetts: Theocracy or Democracy? punish England. They also suffered World History: Who Was the Real Cleopatra? under the rule of King Charles I. History: How the First State Constitutions Helped Build the Constitution who ignored English liberties and Next Issue of Bill of Rights in Action Will Be Available Only Electronically (see page 16). enforced the Anglican religion. HISTORY. 2013 , Constitutional Rights Foundation, Los Angeles. All Constitutional Rights Foundation materials and publications, including Bill of Rights in Action, are protected by copyright.
5 However, we hereby grant to all recipients a license to reproduce all material contained herein for distribution to students, other school site personnel, and district administrators. (ISSN: 1534-9799). bria_29_1: layout 1 10/22/2013 4:56 PM Page 2. Born in 1588, John Winthrop Thus, Winthrop described the Individuals had to testify before the was the son of a large landowner. Puritans' main mission to Massa- congregation and attempt to prove He attended college at Cambridge chusetts Bay as setting an example that they had been elected by God and managed his father's lands. He of godly rule. Those left behind for salvation. According to the Pu- also studied law and became a in England would see God's will at ritans, those who failed this test or minor legal official of the king.
6 At work, follow God's laws, and be refused to apply for church mem- about the time he married in 1605, saved. Later, Puritans called this bership were destined for hell. he got caught up in the Puritan their errand into the wilderness.. movement. The General Court In 1629, King Charles granted a The Congregational Church The first government in the charter to a group of merchants On June 12, 1630, after a two- colony was set up according to the who wanted to establish a trading month voyage aboard four ships, the charter of the Massachusetts Bay colony in New England. The char- Puritans landed at Salem in the Mas- Company. Only about a dozen ter formed the Massachusetts Bay sachusetts Bay Colony. At this time, company stockholders, including Company.
7 Most of the stockhold- Salem was a poor settlement of huts Winthrop, came to the colony on ers, including John Winthrop, crowded between the sea and thick the first voyage. Under the com- were Puritans. forest. Governor Winthrop, however, pany's charter, they were desig- At an organizational meeting, decided to establish a new town, nated freemen, and only they the stockholders voted to transfer named Boston that soon became the were permitted to vote for govern- the company itself to the Massa- capital of the colony. ment officers. chusetts Bay Colony. They also At their first meeting in August 1630, the stockholder freemen con- made as its main purpose a place for Puritans to live under godly The Puritans in firmed Winthrop as governor, rule.
8 Finally, they elected John Massachusetts Bay chose a deputy governor, and se- lected seven assistants to enact the Winthrop as governor of the colony. Under the king's charter, believed in a colony's laws. The assistants also acted as the colony's judges and the company stockholders had the sole authority to create a govern- separation of church the highest court of appeals. Thus, ment for the colony. the nine company officers were In 1630, shortly before the first and state, but not also the colony's government, group of about 400 Puritans sailed called the General Court. to America, Winthrop delivered a a separation of the In October, the nine officers speech that spelled out their reli- held their first General Court.
9 Gov- gious mission. He placed great em- state from God. ernor Winthrop urged that the pub- phasis on the need for everyone to lic be invited. Winthrop convinced unify and help one another for the The Puritans first focused on the other officers to declare all common good. establishing their churches. A those adult males present as Winthrop also described a spe- group gathered together to form a freemen. The new freemen were al- cial covenant between the Puritans covenant community, pledging lowed to vote their consent for the and God to advance God's will in to obey God's laws. Every gather- seven assistants who then selected the colony. Winthrop said they ing, called a congregation, elected the governor (Winthrop again) and would live together to work out our its own minister and decided its his deputy.
10 Winthrop believed that salvation under the power and pu- own church rules. Thus, each Con- the government should be based rity of His holy ordinances [laws]. gregational Church was independ- on the consent (full agreement) of But, most importantly, Winthrop ent and self-ruling, unlike the the governed. said they would create a model for Anglican Church with its governing The October General Court an uncorrupted church and godly bishops. One disadvantage of this ended by inviting any other adult society. He borrowed a phrase from independence was the possibility males to apply for freemanship.. the Bible: we shall be a City upon of division. This could threaten the At the General Court the next year, a Hill. If this undertaking were to colony's unity that Winthrop over 100 men took the oath to be- fail, he warned, many would speak thought was so important.