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Errand into the Wilderness The Unlikely Origins of American Democracy.

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Presentation on theme: "Errand into the Wilderness The Unlikely Origins of American Democracy."— Presentation transcript:

1 Errand into the Wilderness The Unlikely Origins of American Democracy

2 Salem Possessed February 1692, Samuel Parris’s daughter possessed - Sarah Good Arrests did not calm fears - Court of Oyer and Terminer Trial of George Jacobs

3 The implications 1.Ooops! 1697 – Day of Atonement 1711 – Restitution to survivors and heirs 2. Reason triumphant? - Church/state separation - Natural Philosophy (science) - Age of Enlightenment Nathaniel Hawthorne Last gasp of the medieval world?

4 I. Puritan Paradox Undemocratic, theocratic society lays the foundations of American democracy, progressive tradition

5 A. Puritanism and American Culture 1. “cultural empire” 2. Emphasize education, reform & “progress” through cooperative action -Abolition -Temperance -Feminism -Transcendentalism/Unitarianism -communalism -Evangelicalism

6 3. “A Model of Christian Charity” John Winthrop, 1630 The Mission: “City on a Hill” -Americans chosen by God -American “exceptionalism”

7 4. When the “mission” fails… - recrimination, paranoia - tendency to persecute - Failure contradicts “covenant” The Crucible - Arthur Miller Joseph McCarthy

8 II. The Puritan Dilemma

9 A. Something about Mary 1.Reformation in England 1535 Henry VIII “Bloody” Mary I Elizabeth I James I

10 B. The Ghost of John Calvin 1.Reform of the High Church - hierarchy v. assembly What is a “church”?

11 2. Predestination a. Advantages - natural egalitarianism antinomianism Religion as Revolution

12 b. Awful logic of Calvinism

13 C. Your cheatin’ heart 1. Cheat #1 a. The Covenant John Cotton, 1636

14 b. Mayflower Compact, 1620 - community first

15 2. Cheat #2 Conversion process [prominent role in American Protestantism]

16 3. Cheat #3 Visible Saints / the Elect Max Weber

17 D. Cheaters sometimes prosper 1.Full church membership a. receive sacraments b. baptize children (membership) c. vote on minister d. political rights Egalitarian, democratic(?)

18 III. Things fall apart The failure of the Puritan Mission

19 A. Internal division 1.Egalitarian but intolerant Roger WilliamsAnne Hutchinson

20 B. Prosperity 1.Diverse New England economy - rise of the “Yankee” trader Whaling and commercial centers

21 C. Population Growth 4. Westward migration - shrinking farms 5. “Visible Saints” thing comes back to bite them - God’s favor - capitalist ethic conquers communal control

22 D. Judgment Day deferred 1.English Commonwealth, 1649-60 2. Cromwell’s betrayal 3. the Restoration, 1660 Oliver Cromwell

23 E. Loss of Confidence 1.Lack of conversion (3 rd generation) - fewer church members - fewer voters 2. “Halfway” Covenant (S. Stoddard) cheat 4 - vote, but no sacraments By 1700, Puritan church not so pure

24 IV. Utopia Undone

25 A. The Cheese and the Worms 1.“Now my charms are all o'erthrown” - Prospero, The Tempest - Malleus Maleficarum 1486 - Folk knowledge; “magic” - rise of Modernity

26 B. Wrath of God 1.King Philip’s War, 1675-76 2.1680s smallpox epidemic 3.1684 – Royal Colony loss of political control

27 C. Satan’s Sisters -Tituba West Indian -Sarah Good homeless beggar -Sarah Osborne elderly; alone; poor church attendance -Martha Corey had illegitimate, mixed-race child; opinionated -Rebecca Nurse elderly; dispute with previous minister -Bridget Bishop 3 husbands; non-demure; worked in pubs

28 D. Do we know why? 1.Lysergic acid (LSD) “Little” Ice Age

29 2. Economic/social rivalry -Village v. Town - pro v. anti Parris - Putnams v. Porters - traditional v. mercantile

30 E. The Upshot 1.Puritans fail “upward” 2.Communal ideals build democratic tradition - rights based on inclusion in community - participatory democracy basis of independence

31 3. Theological conformity (covenant) & individualism (Visible Saints) - economic liberty & social contract 4. New England fertile ground for American liberal tradition Abolition Feminism Transcendentalism TemperancePublic Education Public Services

32 Red vs. Blue regions? Competing definitions of “Liberty”


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