The Spread Of Puritanism





History 103A


Discussion#3


Week#2


Puritanism is a religion created from two parts, one political and the other religious. The political portion came from a group of Protestants who were against the corruption and abuses of the Church. The Puritans wanted to cleanse their church, to make it more holy and pleasing to God. The religious aspect says that Puritans were men and women with intense personal devotion to God. Everything that they took part in was for the praise of God. The life of John Winthrop was clearly devoted to the spreading of this Puritan religion. From the biography of John Winthrop by Roderick Nash and Gregory Graves we learn that he was a man whom believed that the Puritan religion had to expand so that the world could become godlier. However, it needed to be done without taking away from anyoneís individual love of god. This is what lead to Johnís interest in the New World. John Winthrop was always willing to put god in front of any other thing in his life.


From the time that John Winthrop was young he began belief in the praise of god above all else. Johnís first wife became deathly ill when he was just eighteen years old and he states in one of his diary entries that ďa secret desire after pleasures and itchinge after libertie and unlawful delightesĒ meaning that he believed his illness and wifeís death was in direct relation to his secret desires and pleasures. John took on a strong meaning of discipline. He taught himself to love things however this love should never lessen his feelings for god. God should be held above all else and everything else comes next as long as it doesnít interfere. John then began his quest of spreading the religion. Winthrop and friends believed it was their duty to make the world as godly as possible. In order to do this they needed to spread the Puritan way. John believed that due to all the corruption and materialism in England that the best way to spread his way of life was to separate from England and leave their ungodly ways of life behind him.


After many other Puritansí failed attempts for a spread of Puritanism to other countries and continents around the world. John realized that there might only be one place to go with the Puritanism. This place is the New World. Even though Winthrop didnít believe in abandoning the struggle in England he did reason with himself. John Winthrop acquired much interest in a New England. He believed this place to be the one where the Puritans could escape persecution. As leader of the Massachusetts Bay Company Winthrop decided upon a destination and governing way upon its people. The reason why he had the opportunities to make such crucial decisions was due to a mistake in a contract between the trading company and the King of England. There was no specifics on where the board of directors was forced to meet. So in essence John gained a huge edge on spreading the Puritan way. As leader he could follow the trading company to New England and set up a government run exactly as he wanted. John Winthrop then sold all of his possessions and arranged to move his whole family from England to the New World. Johnís wife Margaret at the time was expecting a baby, so he decided that he needed to sacrifice for the good of Puritanism. He decided to leave her and his oldest son at home for the first year while he went with the first group of settlers. Along with leaving his wife behind, Winthrop didnít take into account the long arduous ride to the New World. As soon as he arrived the struggle began. Many of Johnís colonists and children dies within the first year of settlement however he did not give up. Winthrop was determined that no matter what hardships he had to endure that he would accomplish what he set out to do. Many years later, after the Massachusetts Bay Company removed all funding Winthrop still proceeded with his own money. He fed and sheltered everyone who was left. John Winthrop sacrificed all he had for what he believed was