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Roots of Revolution: John Winthrop

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1 Roots of Revolution: John Winthrop
“We shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us.” (Political Science 565)

2 The English Civil War 1642-1651 Charles I & Parliament
Charles I tried for treason, executed 1649 Anglicans, Catholics, Puritans Puritans desire a life that is more, not less, regulated Republic, Constitutional Monarchy, Absolutist Monarchy Oliver Cromwell & the New Model Army

3 John Winthrop 1588-1649 Leader of 1630 wave of Puritan immigrants
Left for New England after Charles I married a Catholic & cracked down on non-conforming religious groups Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony for 12 years Favored clerical government, placed religious law above civil law

4 Puritans in America The previous migrants, the Pilgrims, had been driven out of England, but The Great Migration of 1630 was different: Not driven out of England, they left by their own decision A contract between the community and God Winthrop: “Thus stands the cause between God and us. We are entered into covenant with Him for this work. We have taken out a commission. The Lord hath given us leave to draw our own articles. We have professed to enterprise these and those accounts, upon these and those ends. We have hereupon besought Him of favor and blessing.” Community emphasis pervasive

5 Covenant “Now if the Lord shall please to hear us, and bring us in peace to the place we desire, then hath He ratified this covenant and sealed our commission, and will expect a strict performance of the articles contained in it; but if we shall neglect the observation of these articles which are the ends we have propounded, and, dissembling with our God, shall fall to embrace this present world and prosecute our carnal intentions, seeking great things for ourselves and our posterity, the Lord will surely break out in wrath against us, and be revenged of such a people, and make us know the price of the breach of such a covenant.”

6 Mission: to create the pure biblical polity
Winthrop: “among the members of the same body, love and affection are reciprocal in a most equal and sweet kind of commerce. The mouth is at all the pains to receive and mince the food which serves for the nourishment of all the other parts of the body; yet it hath no cause to complain; for first the other parts send back, by several passages, a due proportion of the same nourishment, in a better form for the strengthening and comforting the mouth.” Not total equality, but a community that cares for its own Positive liberty: Poverty and vice both seen as powers that interfere with the individual's self-mastery Social unity through shared belief Covenanted community Wealth not a result of labor, but of divine favor (7-8)

7 City on a Hill “For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for God's sake. We shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going.”

8 “[W]e are commanded this day to love the Lord our God, and to love one another, to walk in his ways and to keep his Commandments and his ordinance and his laws, and the articles of our Covenant with Him, that we may live and be multiplied, and that the Lord our God may bless us in the land whither we go to possess it. But if our hearts shall turn away, so that we will not obey, but shall be seduced, and worship other Gods, our pleasure and profits, and serve them; it is propounded unto us this day, we shall surely perish out of the good land whither we pass over this vast sea to possess it. Therefore let us choose life, that we and our seed may live, by obeying His voice and cleaving to Him, for He is our life and our prosperity.”

9 Transformation The mission had been to demonstrate the possibilities of Puritan government for imitation in in Europe Winthrop: “We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when He shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, ‘may the Lord make it like that of New England.’” But the mission failed But victorious English Puritans moved to toleration, abandoning the political project of the New England Puritans NE Puritans like actors on empty stage

10 Why had the mission failed?
Can’t be God’s fault, so must look to themselves Self-criticism & jeremiad It must have been because we did something wrong Alone with themselves in America Without the divine mission, who are they? What are they doing?

11 The Great Awakening John Edwards
Evangelical leader during Great Awakening Rejected notion that New England was itself a covenanted society, demanded that individuals visibly and individually form a sincere personal covenant with God ‘Purified’ church End of the “Puritan canopy” But the shadow of the covenanted community remains Weakened the Puritan’s intellectual canopy without offering anything to take its opening space for the movement from theology to politics, and leadership from clergy to statesmen

12 Christian Republicanism
In the colonies that would become the United States, republican and Protestant convictions merged as they did nowhere else in the world. Initially, concerns with transcendental religious concerns leaves republicanism a secondary concern The terms of slavery, citizen, freedom, virtue and vice become key terms of colonial Christianity

13 Republicanism Antimonarchical The secular law is supreme
Even over religious authority Citizens & citizenship Willing the law Rights as citizens Gov’t created by and for human beings Liberty vs. slavery Virtue vs. vice Law and consent

14 Mid-18th C. conflicts between France and Britain in N. America
Anti-Catholicism Samuel Davies, 1755: “‘Our religion, our liberty, our property, our lives, and everything sacred to us are in danger,’ especially of being ‘enslaved’ by ‘an arbitrary, absolute monarch’ enforcing conformity to ‘the superstitions and idolatries of the church of Rome.’” A fusion of republican and religious values

15 Toward the Republic The fusion of religious and republican language acted as a ‘disinfectant’ for republican ideas of which believers might have otherwise regarded with suspicion. Thomas Paine, Common Sense Religious language used to generate support for the revolution “a new Israel” Arguments for split from Britain acquired the emotive force & legitimacy of religion. I Religious values migrated along with religious terms into the political speech and so changed political values. But the migration also moved the other way: A religious language put to political use took on political values that altered the substance of religion.

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